Posted by: Ingrid | June 25, 2014


June 24th was my mom’s birthday.  Unlike the first few birthdays after her death, today’s activities were spelled out for me.  We spent most of the day 2/3 kids free, moving boxes from the basement to the garage and stacking them in piles.  Stair climbing with book boxes is better than a high intensity workout!

Sometimes people ask me to tell me about my mom and I don’t know what to say.  I can describe her.  I can give a caricature of who she was.  I can tell you some semi-funny stories (Have I told you about the sandwich she sent with me to Kindergarten one day? Homemade whole wheat bread with unsalted peanut butter and alfalfa sprouts that she grew under the kitchen sink.) But I don’t know how to adequately give words to who she was and how she shaped me.  What do you even say when you know your mother is behind almost everything you do or don’t do.  Behind the way you think about yourself.  The way you think about the past and the future.  Behind the things you wish you could do but never will and the things you will adamantly refuse to do even if you were paid handsomely.

Who was my mom?  I feel like I can still only answer that with “it’s complicated”.

How is it possible to even explain that?  I know that it can’t be easy, ever, to lose a mother, even if she is in her 90’s.  But I would like to presume that if life ran its course in a semi-normal manner, you would have that struggle for autonomy and individuation but eventually you could come out the other side and be friends.  Is that how it all works out?

I wish I could answer that question definitively.  I would give almost anything to be able to, just as I would give so much to have her see and hold her grandkids, to listen to parenting advice over the phone while rolling my eyes, which seems to be what the majority of friends in my age bracket are currently doing.  In my packing I came across a collage of pictures from her birthday seven years ago.  The last birthday.  The last time I saw her alive.  The pictures are faded, blurred, just like the memories and emotions from that day that felt so sharp and intense during the 24 hours I was home.


Your mom may drive you (more than) a little nuts, but do me a favor and give her a hug today.  Just because she’s still there and some day she won’t be.

Life is so short.


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