Wednesday, October 30, 2013
It's how you know...
Today I sat in a red adirondack in my beautiful yard and read Ruth Reichl's Not Becoming My Mother. It was such a fitting thing to do on this anniversary of my mother's freedom from her earthly body. I thought of her and smiled.
When I was halfway through the book I thought even more about how we never really know our mothers. I know that is true for me. I believe it is true of my mother and her mother. And I'm certain it's true for my children. Mothers protect. We are never really all out there . . . why burden those you love?
In 1961 (I think) my Mom had a baby, a tiny baby boy. He lived only two days. I have some vivid recollections of that time, despite the fact that I was only 5 years old. It goes something like this. In a VW Beetle, probably one of the first models you could buy in the United States, my father told my 4 year old sister and I that our Mom had a baby and the baby went to heaven to live with God. Two days prior my sister and I were in a doctor's waiting room in downtown Lowell while our Mom was in with her doctor. My Aunt Margaret walked through the door and swooped us up and took us to an ice cream parlor down the street. I remember having an ice cream soda and wondering why she was carrying my Mom's beautiful red coat with the black fur collar. They didn't want us to see the ambulance come take our mother out of the doctor's office . . . it was all a plan to protect us.
Later, after my dad told my sister and I his confusing story, he took us to Lowell General Hospital. This was when children weren't allowed to visit patients . . . so we stood on the grassy hill and waved to our Mom who stood in a window and waved back. This makes sense to me now, that my mother would want a glimpse of her girls after losing her baby.
Most things make sense looking back, especially as you grow older. Most of us need to have children to realize our parents once felt the very same way we did at that very moment the surge of love overtook us. Most of us. Some are mature enough to learn that lesson before life's experiences teach them. Not me.
Once while looking through my Mom's top dresser drawer I saw the obituary for that little baby, named John. My sister and I didn't attend any funeral and neither of us had any memory of that event ever taking place, but it did. We didn't experience the sadness our parents must have felt. We were protected.
The plans you have to protect your children aren't always realized. There are outside factors one has no control over and maybe others that are missed. But that's what mothers do . . . and mine was good at it.