Today is my Mom's Birthday and I've been Blessed lately to be flooded with early memories of her.
But other than a few of the memories like Mom singing to me, and the 'tea and toast' when I was sick, and my First Holy Communion Day, most of these memories are not vivid, they are vague and they all blend into one, as if it all could have happened on one day, but I'm sure it did not.
All of these memories (except for my wedding day) are early memories and they are all from the 'old house':
My most favorite memory is of me climbing up onto Mom's lap in the big yellow rocker in the living room and asking her to "Sing me Irish, Mommy." I felt so safe, so secure, so protected, and so loved.
Mom combing the tangles out of my hair in the mornings.
Mom giving Diane and myself kitchen spoons and water so we could make mud pies in the backyard. Me running into the house to tell her Diane was eating the mud pies.
Mom carrying me out back in a wash basket and me sitting in that wash basket watching her hang the laundry on the line. The sun, and lots of white laundry (I guess it must have been sheets or diapers), and Mom.
Mom filling the little pool out back for us to play in.
Mom exercising to the Jack LaLanne show.
Mom letting me sprinkle the clothes with water as she ironed them.
Mom bringing us 'funny guys' home from a shopping trip to Flushing.
Mom teaching me how to polish shoes.
Mom helping me to dress up for Halloween trick-or-treating.
Mom making me tea and toast and letting me eat it on the couch in the living room when I was sick.
Mom telling me stories about the Blessed Mother.
Mom teaching me about my Guardian Angel.
Mom teaching me to pray the Rosary.
Mom asking me to teach her my First Holy Communion song.
And on my First Communion day, Mom wrapping me in a white shawl that was Aunt Margie's and telling me how happy it would have made Aunt Margie to know I was using it (and years and years later, Mom sewing lace from one of Aunt Margie's nightgowns onto the bottom of the slip I wore on my wedding day. My Aunt Margie was one of my Mom's older sisters, she died from heart failure when I was about six or seven years old). And Mom telling me that I would look back on my First Holy Communion day as the most special day of my life.
Kissing Dad good-bye as he leaves for work, waving good-bye at the door to Tommy, John, and Marybeth as they walked down the block heading for school. Helping Mom close up the Castro Convertible in the living room that she and Dad slept on. Sitting at the kitchen table having breakfast. Then Mom turns on the TV, I can remember watching Captain Kangaroo, Topper, and My Little Margie while she cleans, and then later she would come and sit with a cup of coffee and watch a cooking show. I wonder if that was the routine?
All the family gatherings at our house, all the parties, and all the barbecues, so many family 'get-togethers' in the house and in the back yard. We were so Blessed.
Mom helping me down the old wooden steps in the back. Mom helping me climb into some sort of stroller or walker. I asked Aunt Florence about it and she said she remembers it, it was my cousin Jimmy's, and it had a bottom that could be moved aside and used as a walker.
Mom told me that I had the Chicken Pox at eight months old, and they were all down my throat, and I refused to take the bottle, so she would help me drink from a cup. She said I never drank from a bottle again after that.
She also said I was covered in pox, and she had to cover my hands with little socks because I kept scratching at my face (I still have a few pox marks on my face from scratching at them), and she said she would take me into bed at night with her and Dad, and I would cry and wriggle around, trying to scratch my own back. And she said she felt so bad for me, and that even though she knew she shouldn't do it, she would turn me over onto my stomach and scratch my back for me to give me some relief. And she said I would quiet down then, and lay so still, and smile, and then I was able to fall asleep.
I wish I could remember that.
I have so many 'special' memories of my Mom, so many 'vivid' memories of her, lots of special days, special occasions, and special celebrations. And lots of sad events too that stand out in my mind (the day my little brother Frankie had to be operated on, the day my oldest brother Tom left home for the Marines, the day my brother John left home for the Army, the Christmas John spent at war in Viet Nam, the day my grandmother died, the day my cousin Jimmy died, so many of her friends and family passing, just so many sad family/friend times, and of course her own descent into the depths of Alzheimer's Disease).
But what I want most, and what I have been Blessed with lately, is to remember the little 'nothing' moments. The regular, normal routine of an early childhood day spent with Mom just always being there for us.
Mom, always there, washing, ironing, and folding clothes, sweeping the kitchen floor, doing the dishes, setting the table, cooking, cleaning, running a bath for someone, feeding a baby, changing a diaper, packing kids off to school, and singing a lot, just her normal routine of being 'Mom'.
I remember Mom telling us that one of the neighbors at the old house had told her that she was so taken by how well my mother took care of seven children. She told Mom that we were quiet, well-behaved, and well-mannered, but also that we always looked so 'polished', she said that my mother was the mother of seven 'only children'! I remember asking her what the neighbor meant and Mom said it was like she cared for each one of us as if we were an only child. I remember how happy she was recounting that story. How happy and proud.
We were her life and it showed.
Happy Birthday, Mom. Missing you lots, but feeling so Blessed to have had you.
Mom, near the very end of your life you said to me, "God's Been Very Good to me". And, now with this gift of these beautiful memories of you, Mom, I too say God's Been Very Good to me.
1 week ago