Now, where did I leave that?

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Happy Birthday, Mom

Today my mother would be 72 years old. She wouldn't have been happy about that; she wasn't one for aging gracefully. Maybe that's a good thing; as Dylan Thomas urged us:

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

She raged until cancer, not age, had the last word.

I sometimes envy those people, like Linda, whose mother-daughter relationships were uncomplicated love stories. That wasn't my experience. But I miss Mom anyway. She had a wicked, sometimes bawdy sense of humor, was smart, perceptive, and eventually--though far too late to repair all the damage she did to her kids--got past enough of her own baggage to be a more loving mother than she was most of our lives. She was a fiercely loyal friend to those who earned that friendship, a trait we share. Alas, we also share the capacity to rip out of our lives those who hurt us or hurt someone we love, with never a second glance. I have her to blame for my explosive temper, but I think & hope I've learned a little tact, diplomacy and the ability to look at both sides and admit when I'm wrong; some days I smile to myself imagining her reaction when I am having to be my professional self, the one who says what she should and not what she's thinking; Mom is somewhere laughing so hard she can't breathe! 

She was...theatrical (okay, yeah, she was a drama queen, but also once longed to be in the theatre); one day I looked at a faded yellow newspaper clipping she'd saved all her life and wept to see her young, lovely, hopeful face as she appeared in a high school play, listing her 'stage name'--Terry O'Banyon, imagining her in a 1950s teenager's bedroom, trying on different names to find the one that encompassed her desires. Sometimes I ache imagining all the dreams she had that never quite happened, and hope she was okay with that in her later years.

Three years ago I wrote about her here and I still miss her now as I did then. I think she'd have loved coming to see us (if we could have gotten her to do it!), would have savored the contrast of the mountains to the flat coastal city she and my father retired to. The critters would have made her smile, and maybe she too would have felt some of the peace that occasionally drifts across the porch with scent of lilac and honeysuckle. If I could give her a birthday present now, that's what it would be: a sweet gentle peace, soft as a warm Spring evening, abundant as a Summer Farm Market, bright as a Catskill Mountain Fall, and as warmly comforting as a firelit Winter night; a peace to fill her soul and surpass her long-ago dreams. And I say a prayer that she's already found it...






11 comments:

AkasaWolfSong said...

Dearest Ashling...
It's hard for me to convey in words how much your writing brought up for me in regards to your Mom...as one who lost her Mom so young I have yet to glean what my Mom would have been like.
Your observations and sharing have given me much food for thought. Not that I haven't thought about all of these things before but you helped me want to delve even further.
I have a feeling your Mother is watching over you and loving each second of your life as it is. Your closing statements say it all Dear One!!!
I'm wrapping my arms around you in a Sisterly Hug...
In Cascading Blessing,
Akasa

Nancy J said...

Ashling,your Mum, heartfelt words, a soul who maybe had dreams not able to be fulfilled, life interfering in all she wanted to be, trying to conform, I'm sure she has peace and happiness right now.One of my friends living near me has lost her Mum this week, and their realationship was not the best.She, too ,is struggling to realise what was, and what is lost. Fond greetings, Jean.p.s.your words will no doubt help so many, as they too may have had a Mum similar to yours.your last words, so true for each of us.

Brian Kelly said...

Brilliant.

Dawn Z said...

Lovely thoughts and memories in honor of your mother, Ashling. A belated birthday haiku . . .

lilacs by the porch
mountain critters in the sun
peace found in this place

Blessings.

Michaele said...

This is an excellent post. You are such a good writer. I worry what my girls would say about me someday. They way you found balance in it all is encouraging.

Our Neck of the Woods said...

What a lovely and honest tribute to your mother. I think that most mother-daughter relationships aren't perfect, but we still always want the best for each other. I believe your mom has peace now!

Linda said...

Ashling what a beautiful post...as one who does not have a good relationship at all with a Mother I can understand ...That is why I work hard at the one I have with my daughter to not repeat that irreparable damage...not physical but emtional & mental damage which can be just as damaging... ...even spirtually...maybe someday I can get to the point you are at...this is so poignant...You are such a fantastic writer...Hope all is well with you & Linda

XO

Pat Riesenburger said...

Wow. This post made me weep. I think your mom has a psychic twin...you know, the one who raised me!

Willow said...

Such a caring honest post filled with love and gained understanding .

Akannie said...

Ahhhh...are you my sister?

I could have written this post. The tangled web of emotions and anger and love that I have for my mother (dead now these past 2 1/2 decades) still surprises me every now and then.

Her birthday was May 5th...

Good to see you again, dear one.

Kristen said...

you were and still are a great daughter. your capacity for forgiving and moving on is huge; a beautiful quality, that.