Jon Anne Willow

Remembering Jude on Mother’s Day

By - May 9th, 2010 04:00 am
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Today is Saturday, the day before Mother’s Day. I spent the morning catching up on some work, making the usual list of weekend chores and errands and assigning everyone to their tasks. I paid a couple of bills online, called my son’s grandmother who hasn’t been feeling well and wished my teenage daughter safe travels as she headed out to her first driving lesson with her dad. Upon my directive, the two adolescent boys wandered to the front of the house to dust and vacuum, and finally I was alone in my newly quiet kitchen, with only my thoughts for company. The first was that my dad was coming for two weeks, starting the next day, and that meal planning would be a must. The second was that my mother was gone and she was never coming back.

Since she died last September, I’ve thought about her more often and more actively than I probably did in the ten years that preceded her passing. Not to say that I didn’t think about her a lot before – I did. She was sick for a very long time and we were usually in the middle of some medical issue or other; the last two years, especially, were downright terrifying at times. But despite all that, or maybe precisely because of it, I rarely thought about her, or her and me, or most especially about the hows and whys of the person she was and taught me to be.

Jude on a rare trip to Milwaukee for Harry’s first birthday

All I could do was lay my head on the kitchen table and cry. Again. Like I haven’t for a couple of months now. I feel so rotten in so many ways for my lack of compassion toward her, for letting my fear of her eroding mind keep me away from the ringing phone, where she was on the other end, trying to connect with me in whatever way she still could. I am so sorry for all the things I forgot to remember while she was still here, and grateful that her gifts were freely given anyway.

So for Mother’s Day, I’d like to say a few things to my Mom. It doesn’t matter if she can hear me, because I can’t really know whether she’s able to listen or not.

First, a few apologies.

I’m sorry I was angry at you for being sick and for not fighting the system harder until you had a true diagnosis and a path to recovery. I’m sorry I let you be so stubborn and that I gave up and let myself be pissed off for twenty years instead.

I’m sorry I didn’t listen closer to your stories and lessons, shutting my ears to what I perceived as preaching and a misguided sense of your own superiority. After all, you were so imperfect, how could you counsel me? (I know the answer now, yes, finally.)

I’m sorry I didn’t come home more often, and that I blamed you for not coming more often to see me. Yes, I’ve been insanely busy since 1990, but you were insanely lonely. And frail. No wonder you lost yourself in pills and TV and cigarettes.

Jude’s wedding day, 1995

There are more apologies to be made, and time will surely see me offering them up. But there are thanks to be given as well, and those will husband the healing process for everyone in my family on the journey of remembering Jude.

Thank you for your intelligence, wit and ridiculous sense of humor. Thank you for teaching me to be (mostly) a decent and principled human being. Thank you for giving me a strong work ethic and for never letting me believe that I wouldn’t succeed. Thank you for all the times you petted my hair as I lay in your lap, crying over a boy or a job or my latest crisis of confidence. Thank you for being a survivor, for as long as you could manage it.

I tried hard in the end. I tried to make up for the time we lost, and I will always have my memories of our last few visits, the talks we had and the knowledge of how much it meant to you that I put everything on hold to sit on the sofa with you and pet your dogs and watch daytime TV for a few days at a time. Gack. I mean it when I say that it was the least I could do. In the end you taught me patience, and tolerance, and even the compassion that might have served us so much better if it had just come sooner. In your own strange way, you gave until the last.

Finally, thank you for calling me the Princess of Hearts, always. Happy Mother’s Day, Mom. I love you, and I hope that it’s enough.

0 thoughts on “Remembering Jude on Mother’s Day”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Beautiful. Every day, when you go out and refuse to let the world beat you, you honor her. Every day, when you work harder than anyone I’ve ever met, you honor her. Every day, when you pass along what you know to Harrison, you honor her.

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