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Posts Tagged ‘growing up’

To my mother

I remember you teaching me how to read. I remember crawling into bed with you on dark winter mornings after dad went to work. I remember throwing up all over you and your nightgown in the living room, and how you weren’t mad or disgusted. You just got up, covered in my puke, and quietly soothed me as you took us to the bathroom to clean up. I remember you, mama bear, defending me and comforting me when I had square peg troubles at school.

I also remember horrible fights. I remember feeling lost and confused and so small and just wishing we could get along. I remember not being able to give up or give in, even when I was wrong. I remember you doing the same. I remember trying my best to hurt you, because I felt a bottomless kind of hurt myself and I wanted you to know what it felt like. I didn’t know where that came from; I still don’t. I remember not having the words to explain. I remember making up, hugging, feeling safe and secure again. I remember when I was afraid of sirens and you’d come in my room and tell me it was ok. I remember, now that I am an adult in years if not in maturity, that you were just a girl when I was born. We grew up together and that was both a blessing and a curse, for both of us.

Now that I am older and have a little mileage between then and my current self, I can look back with so much sympathy and love and forgiveness. You always tried your best and I always had a sense of that. My early childhood was magical; you somehow managed to put a layer of chicken fat between me and the cracks and potholes of the grownup world. Although I was the oldest, “experimental” child, I also had the blessing of being blissfully ensconced in the warm, fuzzy arms of happy parents for more years than my sisters.

When I think about you, one word immediately comes to mind: dignity. You sometimes lost it, broke down, despaired. But through all your trials and difficulties, I always sensed that you had a kind of quiet personal dignity that transcended whatever hard times you were experiencing.

I remember your sketchbook, of a girl in braids holding a ripe ear of corn, of bald infant me on a crocheted afghan in the back yard. I remember that you threw that sketchbook away, maybe frustrated with or critical of yourself. I wish you had kept it. You are an artist, mom. Keep on sketching, whether it is on paper or in rich, loamy soil.

I love you.

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