My mom died back in 2005. I was devastated. I sat down that night [a bit inebriated)... and wrote this out (read days later... at her wake). It was a silly moment a couple weeks back where I was trying to make her laugh. I went in for a hug. She smiled and said, "You're good for the soul." Not quite, no. I'm good for a joke. My mom... she nourished the soul.
Like many of us, she was the walking wounded.... burned and scorned and seemingly blind to her own imperfections. She wanted to be noticed. She wanted to be heard, and... to be appreciated.
Well, she was a Leo.
In the days before her death, we spoke of her being "a great lady" and "a strong woman." Yes, but she was so much more. She was a devoted mother... always there for us. She was proud and loyal and had a wonderful sense of humor. She always got the joke. She had a strong work ethic, as well - even as she hobbled to/from the office.
She left an indelible mark on my life - on all our lives.
She introduced me to Broadway, opera and... music that most little boys knew nothing about. She loved musicals, sad songs, and her kids. Her soul was filled with music. She sang when she cooked. She sang when she read the paper. She sang when alone or surrounded by company. It didn't matter who was there. It was a compulsion.
I started writing poetry (bad poetry, mind you) at 15. She encouraged me constantly. She was full of praise at every turn. She'd show my poems and stories to friends, neighbors, and hair stylists. She was always my biggest fan and I hers. I'm 36 now and, well... I still write a few poems and stories (though hopefully not as bad). It's because of her that I persist. It's because of her that I have the confidence to do so.
As for the cancer and... death itself, I repeatedly told her that death is a natural part of life. I talked about it ad nauseum - so much so that I'm sure it reinforced whatever opinions others had of me being cold and distant. I think, though, that I was just trying to prepare her for that big unknown. I didn't want her to be scared.
I wish she'd been there to see my reaction that night when I got the word that she had died. Within seconds, I broke down and was completely useless from then on. "Your mother has passed." I will never forget those words. I realized, in an instant, that I was wrong. Death wasn't just a natural part of life; it was also the end of life.
Turns out that... I wasn't prepared for the finality of it all.
I'm reminded of a favorite quote (by Ralph Waldo Emerson)...
"To laugh often and much, to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children, to endure the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends, to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others, to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch ... to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded!"
And succeed she did - in being noticed, in being heard, and in touching so many lives. We all appreciated her - every one of us. I hope she knew that.
It's been said that music is good for the soul. Well... I think she was medicine enough. We were her audience and she was the song - at times a symphony, but often a lullaby. Somewhere, right this minute, I know she's singing.
Sing us out to commercial, Mom, and... rest. The credits (yours) are rolling.