I’ve often said my very favorite ‘role’ in my life is “Aunt Carrie” … and I’ll stand by that statement as my nephews and nieces bring me unbridled joy.
Yet, the most sacred ‘role’ I have is daughter. My Mom celebrates her birthday today. I’ve been thinking about the delicate, fragile, strong, and ever-evolving relationship we share.
I’m reflecting on some of the threads in my Mom’s life. Her biological Dad left her and her Mom when she was very young. As I’m learning to understand why I am the way I am, I’m learning how much of our personality and sense of self is developed at a very young age. I can’t begin to understand what it might do to a young girl being abandoned by her father.
I’ve had the great blessing to have parents who stayed together through the good times and the bad (at least I’m guessing there were some bad times – though I never saw them). I’ve talked to friends who grew up in divorced families. Many shared they always believed they were responsible for the fragmentation of the family. I can only imagine what my Mom must have thought when her Dad left and never came back, and rarely reached out to see her.
Thankfully, her Mom found love again, and much laughter, with Grandpa Bear … so Mom grew up in a loving home. Yet, I still wonder how her soul healed after such a young loss.
At a very young eighteen years of age, Mom married Dad, leaving her childhood home and refuge in beautiful Bozeman, Montana and moved to Ralston, Washington. Grandpa wouldn’t give Dad a work vehicle to travel back and forth to the farm, so Mom was left in a rat infested home while he went to work. I’m fairly certain that I remember rats chewing on my young toes which finally inspired Dad to insist on building our home on the farm, but I’ve always had a fairly active imagination!
I do feel as though I won the lottery when it comes to the parents and family I have. Expectations were high; my parents wanted everything for their children and all the opportunities they could provide. (Yes, I even had tap and baton lessons once.) Education was prioritized and their needs were definitely sacrificed to make sure we all had the best foundation possible to build the life we chose.
The years flew by – confirmations, high school graduations, college graduations, weddings, and then grandchildren. Milestones were celebrated – I always hoped that we proved to be ‘worth’ all the sacrifice and effort Mom and Dad put in to each of us.
And then Mom became ill … and nearly died. I can remember like it was yesterday as I had a conversation with one of my nephews. I lost my breath when is asked, “Is Grandma going to die?”
I simply said, “I don’t know. And it is possible.”
His response summed everything I was feeling when he spoke through his tears, “I’m not ready to lose her yet.”
The decisions my mother made to fight to live and fight for her life only elevated my appreciation and respect for her. She is one of the most amazing and strong women I know. I’m so proud to be her daughter – and I’m even more proud to call her one of my best friends.
Mom recently went to the Ritzville Library and took a class to make a quilted coaster. I chastised her when she shared she came home, took it apart and redid it – she just wasn’t happy with it. I thought she was crazy …
This weekend, I started crocheting a scarf and I had made a mistake on the second row and I decided I was just going to keep on going …
Well, I didn’t. I got home, and took it apart and redid it.
The nut rarely falls far from the tree. Like mother, like daughter – I hope!