I’m watching, Mom.
Not my kids, of course, but the older ones. Your other children’s children.
I feel your presence at these weddings, almost physically.
I see the joy in these faces and I know yours would at least match it, if not outshine it.
Because nothing made you happier than to see us happy.
For a woman who taught us the value of independence, you sure loved it when we found a life partner.
Some of us more successful at that than others. I’m sure that worries you, still.
But even more than watching one of your grandbabies bask in a very public display of love and support, I think you beam when we gather. At least, the times everyone is on their best behavior. Like at the ceremony. And the dinner portion of the reception. I have a feeling you sneak out before the bridesmaids do any real booty shaking and words run together. You’d hate that part. I can see you shaking your head and saying that nothing good happens after midnight.
We’re doing OK, Mom. We’re living and celebrating and making babies, as evidenced by the growing number of your great grandchildren. We’re forging careers. We’re screwing up and sniping at each other and fighting over who is bringing which appetizer to which party and how-big-has-it-gotten-am-I-expected-to-feed-an-army. But we come together.
It’s not perfect, Mom. Your grandsons (and you know who they are) snuck out of the reception early to catch a football game. An epic one, from the sounds of it. But they showed up for their cousin, Mom. And spent some good time with each other, defying the usual miles between them. Just like you would have wanted them to do.
My older sisters, not all but some (and you know who they are), still try to boss me around. I still lecture them about boundaries or use my sharp tongue. Yes, Mom, I’m working on that but my acerbic tongue is part of my voice. I try to limit the hurt inflicted but speak my truth. I don’t suffer fools lightly and you know who I get that from, right?
They get together for dinners sometimes. That’s when I really miss not being local. Those family dinners. And then again, sometimes that’s when I feel blessed. A lot of hormones fly at that table. Best to be out of firing range.
The house looks pretty good. I finally found the courage to drive by and there’s a play set at the end of the driveway, almost exactly where my sandbox used to be. I don’t ever want to go inside again. I like the home I keep in my memory. Some of the old crew still live in the neighborhood and I’m really hoping Mrs. Corea gives cookies to the little girl who sleeps in my old bedroom. Every child should have a neighbor who gives them cookies, in my book. As long as it’s not a creepy old man neighbor.
But I digress.
I guess I’m saying that things go on pretty much as usual.
I think of you. God, I think of you. And I wonder how the hell you raised six daughters without a head full of bald patches and more worry lines. Jesus, you aged well. I’m trying. I think the past five years have aged me 10. I held my own until I couldn’t. But I’m getting back on track.
Whenever I worry about my financial future, my business, my boys, getting older, I feel you there. Softer. Holding me up. Anchoring me. As I raise one son with more fire than sense and another who lives in a world full of books and quiet pursuits, I marvel at what it takes to accept what you’re dealt. We don’t really mold them. They come, as is, and we just shepherd as best we can. But the raw material is there. It’s hardwired. That’s perhaps one lesson I have over you, Mom. I think that one was hard for you to accept. You were so sure you could make us all in your image.
And I think I feel them, on my best and worst days, over my house, my car, E riding the bus, M at a chess tournament.
People can say death is death. They can believe that, if they want.
Not so for me. I can’t see you or hear you or hug you. But you, your essence? Man, that’s part of me. Part of this house. Part of my kids. And something tells me you’re pulling strings left and right—from the $10 my little guy won on his lottery ticket (to his obvious delight) to the washing machine miraculously holding out another year.
So, I watch. And I applaud, I cheer, I hoot and holler, I cry. As I watch this crazy tribe you and Dad created live right on into the future.
Amazingly. Messily. Bravely. Sometimes by the skin of our teeth.
But you knew that already, didn’t you?
I’m not the only one watching.