In honor of Mother’s Day…

I wanted to share this essay in honor of my mother on this very special day… 

At the awkward, insecure age of fifteen, my family was shattered. It was the typical divorce story; after 25 years of marriage, my dad fell for his youthful secretary. He cheated for a couple years, and then left my mom, sister, and me for his shiny new life. To say I was damaged would be an understatement; his actions greatly contributed to a dark and difficult road that stole nearly a decade of my life. In the wake of betrayal, however, my mother chose the high road and remained true to the very essence of her being. My mother taught me how to be strong, how to love unconditionally, and how to forgive.

 

In her early years as a divorcee, my mother demonstrated great strength. Forced to leave our large, beautiful family home, she, my sister, and I downsized to a 1000 square foot house with walls browned from cigarette smoke and cabinets rotten with mold. At 5’ 11 and a skinny 125 lbs, my 45 year old mom ripped up the old floors and laid down new ones. She installed cabinets, painted walls, and singlehandedly did everything she could to create a home that felt warm in contrast to the sadness that was silently brewing within each of us. She cried a lot, but each day she got up, she worked hard, she found a job and she kept going. I relied on her example of strength when I navigated through the dissolution of my own marriage many years later.

 

The relationship she had with my father was one of love, betrayal, and heartache, but it managed to come full circle as he neared the end of his life. My dad was diagnosed with a rare neurological disease that robbed him of his not-so-perfect shiny new family, his independence, and ultimately his life. From buying his Depends to sitting at his hospital bedside, my mother showed up with poise and grace to help care for him at the very end. In the hours before he left his life, she sat there and held his hand, telling him stories of happier times, recalling memories of his parents, and of his sister, and of his children. It allowed my father to release the guilt he had been burdened with for so many years. There is no greater gift she could have given.

 

I feel blessed to have watched her navigate through life in the way that she did, she has been my greatest teacher. In the wake of divorce, she gathered the shattered pieces of her life and found a way to soften and mold them into a shape that she loved. I doubt she will ever know what she gave to my father, or me, when she sat by his side. Her grace is unrivaled by anyone I have met, and I can only hope to find the same capacity for strength, love, and forgiveness within myself.

 

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My Mother

 

 

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