A Letter to my Mother

Dear Mom,

It has been so long since I have seen you, yet it barely seems like time has passed in a way. So many things have happened; so much has changed in my life. I wonder what you would think of me now.

Do you know that I have two children? They are girls, Cassie and Brittany. Last time I saw you I was six months pregnant with Cassie. I had been to the doctor for a sonogram that very last morning you were here. I remember that you had said I would have a little girl, and darned if you were not right. And I loved her so much that I had another!

My girls ask about you all the time. Brittany asks more – wonders more I guess. She is so sensitive and concerned. She asks what it is like not to have a mother. She asks if I miss you. I think she worries that because you died, I too will die and won’t be able to watch her children grow up. So much goes on in both of their heads, it is amazing that at 11 and 12 they are so inquisitive and smart.

Rich and I have been divorced for quite some time. I was so unhappy and I can’t tell you how many times I wished you were here to talk to. I wanted to ask you what I should do – wanted to know how to make everything better without anyone getting hurt. I don’t think I succeeded there. Rich was hurt, I was hurt, the girls were hurt – not exactly the smart way to go, do you think? I thought that because you had been divorced, you would understand and could help me see things more clearly.

I am remarried now. You would love my husband. He is fantastic. His mother reminds me so much of you. She is very devoted, and very sweet. She loves the girls so much. They love her too, I think. We don’t see her very much – but we would if she lived closer. I can just picture the two of you doing things together – going to church functions, antique shopping, watching old movies, eating lunch at fun places. She would have been a great study partner or just someone to talk to and share things with. I know you didn’t have very many close friends – but I am sure she would have been one of them, given the chance.

I still look pretty much the same. I have remained in pretty good shape and I still work out at the gym. I remember when we used to work out together at the gym near the hospital. Do you remember that cute boy that asked me out one time? I can’t even remember his name anymore, but I do remember we never went out. I think you, Kathy (remember your skinny, nutty friend?) and I ended up going to Kelly’s in downtown South Bend instead.

I remember moving to our last house. Do you remember all the work we had to do? I was so happy to have a house, but so discouraged by the mess, by the neighborhood, by everything I guess. There I was in 4th and 5th grade learning how to wallpaper, paint, do all sorts of things many adults can’t do. It was educational, but so hard. I remember Holly Hobby wallpaper in my room and how much I loved the little rosebuds that were on it. Good choice, by the way!

Shawn is doing well – in case you have not heard. He is married and has a little boy, Aaron. I don’t see him much, but he will be in Texas for the summer and I will spend TONS of time with him. You would be so proud of all that he has done. He is a good father, a good husband – what a great, great son you have there. He had some marriage problems right after Aaron was born, but I shook him senseless and he got over it. Actually, we talked a bit, and he decided to work it instead of giving up – which was the path I chose instead…I can give advice, but I don’t seem to handle it well.

I have a great job – it is amazing how well I have done. You would be surprised – I know I am. I make more money than I am sure you ever dreamed of, and our combined household income is nice – very nice. We seem to spend it all – but we are doing JUST FINE. I am very happy now – financially, emotionally, all around a happy girl. You may not recognize that part of me.

I wonder what you thought of your life as you were taking your last breaths. Did you worry about us? Did you feel sad? Were you happy that you didn’t have to fight anymore? When you died I cried – I cried for so many days, weeks, months. I couldn’t imagine a day that I wouldn’t think of you and miss you so terribly. I missed talking to you on the phone every afternoon. Did you see me pick up the phone every day for months thinking that I could talk to you – only to realize you were not at home? Did you ever catch me calling our old phone number just to see if you were there? I remember asking Erin’s mom how long it would take to stop hurting so badly – she said it took her years. She was right. I think it took at least 5 years to get to the point where I could go through a day and NOT think about you. Wow – those were hard years.

We have a picture of you hanging in our Piano room – looking over the baby grand. It is not the same piano you had. I couldn’t keep that one when you died because we didn’t have room – so I gave it to your church. But – once we had a bigger house and had saved some money (we were so poor for years, until Brittany was born and I went back to work) I finally got another one. It is not a Baldwin, but it is very pretty and you would love it. Cassie can even play it pretty well. I have not gotten her involved with lessons since we moved to Texas…but I know if I did, she would really take off.

I have not planted roses in such a long time, but this year I will try it. I remember how beautiful your flowers were. You spent so much time taking care of them – they were perfect. I also remember that huge, fragrant lilac bush in the back yard. I would LOVE to have that in my yard now. I want to plant one of those this year too – it will be nice to see those familiar little buds again.

I found an old diary of yours a while ago – I guess that is why I started my own. It is hard to write in it…how did you stay so dedicated? You seemed so sad in some of those pages – I was the cause of most of that. What a difficult time I gave you. I hope you know that I love you and I didn’t mean any of the mean things I used to say – I wish I could take it back. I wish my girls would not turn into teenagers and be that way – but I imagine it is unavoidable.

Do you remember the day we spent at the art festival in Elkhart? I bought a Christmas ornament from one of the booths – it is my most prized possession. We had spent the morning shopping, went to The Tea Room for lunch (remember those roast beef sandwiches and the HUGE deserts?). I think Barb may have gone with us, but mostly I remember spending the day with you and having such a good time. We always had fun on Saturdays – going to lunch, shopping – not fighting. It was good.

I miss you.