This week it was forty six years since my mother died. She loved Christmas and had the strength of will to die on the day after Epithany, thus saving all of us from associating her death with the Christmas season. My mother was just cool like that.
She was cool in a lot of ways. Her own mother died when she was fifty, I was about seven. I remember my mother going to stay with her siblings at my grandmother’s house the last week of my grandmother’s life. They all gathered around her and took care of her. My grandmother birthed her own hospice unit. Two daughters and four sons, with associated spouses — who cared for her on her death bed. They left their own families and helped their mother transition from this life to the next in the comfort of her own home.
My mother was a wonderful daughter, and a wonderful mother. In the twelve years I had her, she loved me so well, it has lasted me for the whole of my life. She taught me how to be a mother. And that gift has passed through me to my daughters.
My younger daughter produced my grand daughters and is cut from the same cloth as her grandmother. I hear my mother’s patience in the sound of her voice. But I can also hear the echo of my mother when my daughter adds a sharp “capisce?” when her instructions are not followed. My mother used to punctuate many a sentence with that same word thoughout my childhood.
Both my daughters reach back to me with love and affection. They show me the kind of care and respect I remember my mother giving to my grandmother. Even though they never had the chance to see me reach back to my own mother, somehow, they know. Innately, they know.
To think that I am the wizened wise old woman in this family now gives me a chuckle. What would my mother and grandmother think of my purple hair, motorcycle and tattoos? Those thoughts make me smile.
Five generations of women I have seen — two before me, and now two after me. One blood line with this in common. Love for children. Respect for elders.
There is a quote out there I love. Linda Hogan wrote it in 1947. She tells us — “Walking, I am listening to a deeper way. Suddenly all my ancestors are behind me. Be still, they say. Watch and listen. You are the result of the love of thousands.”
I still miss my mother. Grief is a companion whose company you are never free of. But I know her love survives through me to my grandchildren. Love always survives.