Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Remembering my mother

Growing up, I was always closer to my mother than to my father.  Not that my father and I had a bad relationship - we just didn't have as close of a bond as there was between my mother and I.  I am the youngest of 6 children which made my mother 37 years old when I was born; so, she was always older than the mothers of my friends.  Her hair also turned gray at an early age (before I was born) giving her an even more matronly look.  When younger, I would sometimes tell my friends that she was my grandmother - something I'm not particularly proud of today.

Mother was short (about 5' 2") and feisty.  She was a strong woman - she had to be as she raised my 3 older siblings alone while my father was away fighting in WW2; there were periods of time when she didn't know if he was dead or alive.  Myself growing up in the Vietnam era, I realize now that she knew war for much of her life.

My parents eloped while she was in nursing school.  She would tell stories of climbing out the window of her dorm at night so that she could spend the night with her husband.  Eventually she got caught and was kicked out of school.  When I was 9 years old, she went back to nursing school.  Upon graduation, she started working as a visiting nurse.

We lived in the small town of Boulder Creek, California and many of her patients were elderly living in nearby Santa Cruz.  During the summer months, I would sometimes go with her on her route and go to the beach to play in the tidepools while she tended her patients.

When she was younger, she was told that she would likely be blind by adulthood and was counseled to learn some sort of trade that she could do without sight.  So, she became and avid knitter.  The predicted blindness never came; but, she continued knitting throughout her life.  I was always amazed at how she could sit watching TV and carrying on a conversation while knitting complex designs without ever having to look down at what she was doing.  She also did a lot of sewing.  Growing up, most of the shirts I wore were homemade.

There is a 6 year gap between me and the next siblings; so, by the time I got into middle school I was the only child left at home.  By the time I got into high school, her sewing turned to doll clothes for the grandchildren.  Then she started buying dolls at garage sales and making new clothes for them to donate to needy children.

As I've shared before, I am a convert to the LDS church, having been baptized while in college.  My parents were dead set against me serving a mission and my father refused to provide any financial support for what he considered a satanic cult.  However, my mother wrote to me faithfully every week during my mission, occasionally including a $10 or $20 bill in the letter - unbeknownst to my father.

When I started dating the girl who would later become my wife, my parents embraced her and welcomed her into the family.  They were there to celebrate our wedding - in spite of not being able to attend the temple sealing.  When our first child was born, they drove 1½ hours to be with us at the hospital - even though grandparenthood was not new to them seeing as how my oldest daughter was their 11th grandchild.

While my oldest 2 children were just 2 & 3 years old, I was transferred to Texas where we've lived ever since.  The distance meant that visits with my parents were infrequent but cherished.

My mother died a few years ago after a bout with cancer.  During this time of the year, I miss her very much.  I know she was proud of me; but, I regret never having told her about the type of son I really am - her gay son.  Looking back at some things that happened while in high school, I realize now that she must have had her suspicions (something I may blog about one day).  I firmly believe she would have continued to embrace me had I accepted myself at an earlier age and chosen a gay path rather than a Mormon (in denial) path.

During the month of May, let us all take time to remember and honor our mothers.


Sean said...

she sounds like a strong, wonderful mother.

Thank you for sharing her story.

your friend,

Bravone said...

She sounds like a wonderful mom. I'm sorry you couldn't share fully your life with her before her passing.

Beck said...

Yeah for mothers!