The Latest from Lola's Diner

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Today's post is dedicated to my Mother

She would have been 79 today. She passed away 25 years ago. I was 22 at the time and I was devastated. It was completely unexpected and sudden.

My Mother was Italian. She was the youngest of 4 girls. Her Mother died during childbirth. The 4 girls were put in orphanages. My Mother was adopted and raised by a childless couple. Her father remarried and had another 2 girls and a boy. I believe it was in adulthood that the siblings reconnected and remained close. We always had holidays at what would have technically been my step-grandmother's house.

I am the oldest of 2 girls. My parents were married 11 years before they had me. My Mother was 36. She had 2 miscarriages prior. They were beginning to think they weren't going to have children. My sister was born 17 months later.

I was very close with my Mother. I would sit and watch her make spaghetti sauce from fresh tomatoes from the garden or clean huge fish that the neighbor boy brought over from his fishing trips with his Dad. I was always watching her when she cooked, no matter what it was. Whether it was simple fried pork chops, cube steaks, Sicilian steak, lasagna or bracciole. I was always there watching. I'm sure my love of cooking was cultivated in her kitchen.

I also am a perfectionist at ironing. Every day I watched my Mother iron my father's shirts and his handkerchieves after school while we watched Leave It To Beaver in the living room. I would always ask her why she bothered ironing the handkerchieves, especially considering they would get wadded up in my father's pants pockets right after he took them out of the drawer, but she insisted they had to be ironed. It was the 60's and that's just what wives did.

My Mother was my best friend and she was the Mom of our block. True, there were other stay at home moms on our block, but they didn't have the patience or compassion that my Mother had. Our house was the 'go to' house whenever any of the other kids on the block were having a bad day at home. Sometimes the kids would wait until late afternoon when my Mother would sit on the stoop, other times they were bold enough to ring the bell. My Mother always had a treat and a hug and a kind ear for all of them. I must admit that I was a bit jealous of the attention they got and I would always tell my Mother how she was being so taken advantage of because all they came for was the cupcakes, brownies or candy bars. Of course now I've come to realize that wasn't really true. Some of them just came for the hugs. For them, the treats were the icing on the cake. We had one neighbor with 5 kids and their Mom was always hollering at one or all of them for something. If I heard her hollering, I could count the minutes until one of their kids showed up at our door. Another neighbor had 7 children. Same thing. Yet another neighbor, the Mom started drinking beers at 10am and had her children clean house for her and get dinner ready while she sat back and watched her soaps. How did I know this? Because our friends always complained about the chores and if we ever tried to go to their house before their Mom let them out after chores, she would answer the door with a brewski in her hand.

Four years before my Mother passed away my sister and I threw our parents a 30th Wedding Anniversary Party. I rented out the local bar that had a hall that our relatives always used for occasions. I conspired with my Mother's sisters and her step-mother. Somehow I managed to cook all of the food at my mother's house on the sly. I made barbequed beef and took it to her step-mother's house and put it her their freezer. My sister and I purchased all the other necessary items and ordered salads from the deli store. One of my Aunts had sent them an invitation for a Wedding Anniversary for one of her sisters. My parents had no clue the party was for them. My mother even purchased a card and a gift. When they came to the hall and we all yelled "Surprise!" my poor mother turned around and walked out. Her sisters had to chase her down. She was embarrassed by all the fuss. After a few minutes she came back to the party and we all had a really great time. It was the first time I'd seen my Mother have more than 1 drink. If it's possible, she was even more sweet than usual. After the party my sister and I loaded up our cars with the leftovers and took them back to my parent's house. I sat up with my Mother for hours and she just talked and talked.

A few years later on New Year's Eve I didn't have any specific plans. I drove to my usual haunts and found nothing going on. I could have hung out anyway, but I kept thinking how my Mother was home alone. My Father had gone out to the bar he hung out at on Friday nights and my sister was out as well. After driving for awhile the guilt of her being home alone got to me and I stopped at PDQ (similar to 7 Eleven) and got a bottle of Cold Duck, a can of cheese spray and a box of Triscuits. I know it sounds funny, but hey, I was in my twenties! Besides, beggars can't be choosers when the only thing open was PDQ. My Mother and I drank the Cold Duck and had our cheese spray and Triscuits and rang in the New Year with Dick Clark. My Mother and I talked and laughed until my Father and my sister came home.

My Mother died suddenly the morning after my sister and I came back from a weekend in Madison. I'll never forget when my supervisor came up to me and said my Father had called and wanted me to go home right away. My sister was working with me at the time. I took my car and we drove home. Neither of us looked at each other. Tears streamed down our faces. Somehow, even though our Mother was never ill a day in her life, somehow we knew she was gone. When we pulled into our subdivision and saw the police squad in the driveway, we knew for certain. One of our friends drove us to the hospital, but she was gone before she left in the ambulance. A valve in her heart burst. Nothing could be done.

I don't remember what happened the rest of that day, other than I never slept. The next day our Father made us go with him to the funeral parlor. He told us that we had to go so we would know how to handle things when he passed. He was right of course, but that didn't make us feel any better about going there. When my Father did pass 6 years later I just went to the same funeral home and told them to just do it all up the same and I signed the papers. I really didn't need to go through that experience with my Mother to do that, but I think my Father had the idea that I was the oldest and that I had to know how to do that sort of thing. Surprisingly I did remember all the minutaie of the process, my sister of course did not. I don't think I slept for an entire week. I had never drank coffee before my Mother passed away, but I started drinking it after and I pretty much lived on it that entire week. My Mother had always said coffee was for grown-ups and had always looked down on youngsters drinking coffee. I guess with my Mother gone I suddenly felt like a grown-up. I still drink coffee to this day.

I think I cried the hardest the night of the funeral as people were getting into their cars and driving away from our house. I walked one of my friends to her car and it suddenly hit me that I never gave my Mother grandchildren. She so loved children and she often babysat for some of the other families on the block. Eventually I did have children, kind of late like she did. I'm hoping she's looking down from heaven and watching over her 2 beautiful grandchildren.

Lola's Diner
©2008-2009

24 comments:

Megryansmom said...

Thanks for sharing that beautiful tribute to your mother.

I am Harriet said...

You're awesome Lola!
I'm in the process of losing my mother right now.

JD at I Do Things said...

What a lovely post.

My mom is my best friend, and I thank God every day she is healthy and able to do everything she wants to do. I can't imagine what my life would have been like if I'd lost her at a young age.

Lola said...

@ Megryansmom-Thank you.

@ Harriet-I'm so sorry. It can be very difficult. I kind of saw things from both sides with my parents. My Mother died suddenly, while my Father had cancer of the lymph nodes and then was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and his suffering went on for months. It was very difficult to watch his decline in health and the change in his spirit. It was very hard to watch. My sister and I shared caregiving duties. I drove in from Chicago and spent extended weekends, while my sister and her husband spent the rest of the week with him. The distance made it that much harder, but I guess in the end I was happy that I made the effort to be there. I will keep you and your Mother in my prayers.

@ JD-You are very fortunate.

Patricia Rockwell said...

Thank you for this wonderful Mother tribute. It brought me some tears of joy, thinking about how lucky I am to have my delightful, spunky, 88 year old Mom still here. I was a little worried yesterday when I kept calling her and got no answer. Discovered this morning that she spent the day yesterday playing snake eyes with her friends at her retirement home! Don't you love it?

Lin said...

What a nice story about your mom, she sounds like she was an incredible woman. I'm sorry that you only had her for a short time--but be glad that you remember so much of your time together. My dad died when I was 7 and I have only a handful of memories.

I think your mom would have loved this tribute to her.

mincognita said...

What a touching tribute to your mother. I'm sure it was a difficult post for you to write, but thanks for sharing it. She sounds like an incredible Mom.

Storm, The Psychotic Housewife said...

'Tis a beautiful tribute to your mother who sounds like she was a wonderful person!

Margo said...

ahhh, what a beautiful story to share, Lola. You and your mom both sound like amazing people.

Michelle said...

What a beautiful tribute to your mom. I know how you feel. My mother is my best friend too. She's my rock! My husband lost his mother about 5 years ago to lymphoma. She passed 4 months after her diagnosis. She was only 59 and we are all still traumatized by the events. I got pregnant one month after her death, which was a huge surprise for us. She was a school teacher and just loved kids. Much like your mom. It breaks my heart that she never got to meet her first grandchild. Thanks for sharing these beautiful memories of your mom. You were very lucky to have her, though the time was short. What a wonderful gift to share these special memories with your children.

Auntie E said...

My Mother was my Best friend, She passed away a Year ago. Your Story is so nice to read. I haven't met many people who Had that kind of relationship;like us. thanks for sharing it.

Stacy (the Random Cool Chick) said...

What an absolutely beautiful tribute to your mother, Lola! Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful story...it's obvious the love you had (have) for your mother...she was blessed to have you as her daughter! :) ((HUGZ!))

Shelli wishes it was Mrs. Burchett;) said...

I'm sure your mother is smiling down on you now. That was beautiful!

On The Verge said...

That was such a beautiful tribute to your Mom. I am sure she is watching you and your children from heaven.

Stephanie said...

A wonderful tribute, stunning. My best wishes on this difficult anniversary.

Flo said...

What a beautiful post! It left me teary-eyed.

Allie said...

A beautiful and moving tribute to your mother. My mother died unexpectedly last April. I feel for you and your loss. Thank you for sharing such wonderful memories. allie

Mira said...

Oh Lola, this story made me cry, I'm still wiping my tears. Your mom was a great person and I can only imagine your grief when you lost her. I'm also very close with my mom and I feel guilty not being with her and my dad in their old age since I live in another country with my own family. I'm sure she's watching over you from heaven. Happy Sunday.

Babette said...

This is a wonderful tribute to your mom.

caregivingdaughter said...

Oh Lola, that was a beautiful and touching tribute to your mother. What a lovely woman she must have been. My husband's mom died suddenly in a similar manner (brain aneurism) when he was only 17. I know it makes him sad to know that our children never got to meet her and love her the way that he did. At least your memories of her are from a time when she was happy, healthy, and vibrant.

Shauni said...

What a wonderful and amazing tribute. You were exactly what she needed in her daughter!! I am sure she knew that the children would come when they came and that now she is watching over them caring for them in the way only the "mom" on the block can be

artist victoria o'neill said...

i read every word of this post. it made me laugh and cry. I feel like I miss your Mom now too.....

Jen said...

What a beautiful post. My father died suddenly too and we did what you did with regard to funerals. We had them do a do-over of my grandmother's funeral, the one my father planned. Interestingly my uncle died six months later and my cousins just did another do-over. I can't imagine losing a parent at such a young age and then to lose another so soon after. I'm sure she is watching her grandchildren and smiling knowing they have such a wonderful mother.

The Girl Next Door Grows Up said...

She is right there with you and watching you every day. I just know it.

This was beautiful and I can identify because my parents are similar to yours. I went through that with my grandparents.

Just a fantastic post. Thank you for sharing it.

 
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