A shrink once told me that it could be therapeutic to write a letter expressing my feelings to someone even if it never got sent. I can see the rationale behind the idea, although I seldom heed the advice. I still tend to blurt things out, sometimes loudly, often lengthily, before my filter has time to kick in. But today I’m writing to my mom – there’s no address to send it to – but I want to clear the air anyway and come clean. It’s Mother’s Day after all.
The lamp shade in your living room didn’t have a flaw in it from the factory. The hole was from when I was ten and shot at Jonny with a bb gun because he was being a jackass. As you know, he was very agile - and dove out of the way of the “bullet” last minute.
Nobody backed into your car at the mall and left the scene without leaving you a note. I cut a corner too close and hit a pole when trying to show my friends how fast your beloved sports car could go.
On any given weekend, when I called to tell you goodnight - that Pam, Ruth, Amy, Diana, Bert and I were going to watch a movie and go to bed, most times I was in a phone booth outside a place that I wasn’t old enough to get in to but was able to with my fake ID. (Kathleen Tanker from Kent State, whom I've never met, bore a striking resemblance to me and Diana stole her ID while working at the campus library. My college roommates called me, “Tank” for years.)
It doesn’t bother me too much that I told those little white lies. I didn’t want to upset you…or be grounded. But it bothers me that I didn’t tell you very often what a remarkable and good person you were. Maybe I didn’t even know until I got older. Until I was a wife and mother myself. I watched you just be Mom, a single mom for a lot of years, before that was even a recognized term. I didn’t get that you were my role model until it was too late to tell you. You exemplified the qualities that every mom, every person, should aspire to have. Strength, even in the face of unimaginable tragedy. Humor, when most people would have been unable to find anything funny. Unconditional love for your kids even when it didn’t always appear to be reciprocated. Respect for our decisions, including the really, really bad ones. Kindness, not just toward us but toward total strangers, before it was cool and the thing to do.
I was always proud of you and should have told you more often. Happy Mother’s Day. And sorry again about the lamp shade.