For you, mom
As I was thinking about this today, it is really odd to me, to say "deathday". Regardless, that does not make this any easier to write. It has been 5 years, to the day, since my mom passed away. I've decided this year to really dive deep into my thoughts about her.
The cover image for this post, is one of my favorite that depicts my mom in a happy state, without pain, and a dark cloud over her head.
It has been a really weird day today. I have not quite decided how I want to, or should, feel about things. I think my kids picked up on this as my daughter and I really had a hard time at one point tonight. We were having a parental discussion, and she stated that I was yelling at her. Truth be told, I wasn't as that is something that I have been working very hard on the past few years. If anything I was being very stern about it. I am aspiring to live better than my step-father treated/fathered me (abusively, but that’s another story).
After she calmed down, I sat her down and had a discussion about it. I ended up mentioning my own feelings about today and my mother to her. At first, she said she didn't know about it, which I replied I wouldn't expect her to and I am not angry about that. I used it as a learning experience. I told her that I was sad about my mother and that I was not letting that sadness mix into my parenting of her. I explained that I was working hard to control my emotions regarding that, in order to have a normal conversation with her. This is something we are trying to get her to understand in her own emotions and how to better control them.
As I write this, I feel a little bit better. That whole situation made today a bit more stressful, but I personally think I handled it well. I stayed level headed through it, and she needs to realize that I am not yelling at her when I get stern.
But back to the true point of this piece of writing.
5 years isn't a long time
It is hard to believe that 5 years have gone by so quickly, regardless of my mother passing or not. Within 5 years, I have lost my mother, been divorced, changed jobs, and grown up a lot more. My second child was also born just a handful of months before my mother passed away.
It has been a lot to take in and as mentioned in my 2019 reflections post, I can attribute the success of the past 5 years to therapy, anxiety medications, and my support network. My fiancée has been my rock the whole time, and I can not thank her enough. She's had her own share of rough times that we have worked through together as well. All in all, my mother was a large chunk of this, but so many other things have happened.
Remembering the good things
There are things I will never forget about my mother. It is interesting to note that my therapist thought I might suffer from mild PTSD due to happenings in my childhood that caused me to have bad short term memory. Due to this, I thought I would forget much about my mom, but in the past few years since her passing, I feel like certain memories are becoming more clear.
She loved music, specifically rock and roll. I am so thankful she did because it is one of my favorite qualities of myself. I'd be hard-pressed to think I would've ended up in my church bell choir and eventually playing guitar without this fact. As far as her influence on my musical tastes, I tend to listen to everything at least once, but gravitate towards rock genres. I can attribute that to her and my father I think. She was completely infatuated with Bon Jovi though. The funny part is that I probably know the lyrics to many of his/their songs still. The same can be said for Def Leppard or Madonna. It was amazing to sing a Bon Jovi song for her with my siblings at my brother's wedding. I hope to continue the tradition at my own wedding this year. (Please Rev?)
I am happy to say my mother was able to make it to the first show my band played. I will always cherish that memory. She talked about it all the time and talked about our EP all the time after that.
She loved summer, and I can still remember how much that woman used to tan. The best place to tan other than our yard was the pool, and that meant my sibs and I quickly became poolrats. Meaning we spent most days at the pool, which for me, evolved into becoming a lifeguard. This is probably one of the defining moments in my life I think. It was my first real job and one where I was serving people. I saved multiple children from drowning over a few summers, but what really lives on, is my desire to make people's lives easier. I tend to encourage people to make their lives better, or easier at work.
She loved cooking. I have some memories of chicken pasta, and other dishes she used to make. I do wish I had more memories of this because I know they are in my brain somewhere. It's easier to remember things my grandma Hughes and grandma Delso cooked on the holidays, but remembering things my mother would have cooked would be something to cherish. I want to say I have some of her recipes from going through things after she passed. Maybe I should look them up.
She loved her children, until the end. This is something that is hard to see in the moment. Specifically in moments of anger. In the years leading up to her passing, I was very distanced from her for many reasons in my mind. I mean, when I left for college in 2002, it was like I had left behind my step-father and certain things about my mother. Then following college, I got married. Then the kids came along, and that’s all she wrote. In that time, I don't really remember too many times we saw her that are good memories. Her holding my children for the first time will always be burned in memory; however, there is a theme here. That theme is probably regret due to hindsight.
No cure for regret but time
Do I have regrets? Yea, I mean, who doesn't? I mean there are many things I would have changed about my relationship with my mom prior to her passing. As they say, hindsight is 2020 and I've gained wisdom in the past 5 years. As such, I have a list of regrets regarding my mother.
I really wish I had the chance to tell her how proud of her I was that she was doing something with her passion for cooking. She had gone back to school to learn culinary arts, and had obtained a culinary license! A picture I took of one of her recipes showed up on my Google photos memories recently. I couldn’t help but smile when my youngest sister Brianna made a comment that no measurements being listed as a “total mom move”.
I deeply regret not being more in contact with her and the rest of my family during my college and first marriage years. I feel as though my mother missed opportunities to show my children who she was instead of me having to tell them second-hand stories about her.
The above regret is for more than just my mother, and something I am learning from, albeit slowly. It’s hard to teach an old dog new tricks, right? I much prefer texting people over calling them. At times, I will go weeks without talking to my parents and grandparents still on this Earth. I strike up a chat with my closest friends less than weekly. I know I missed Bri growing up; even though, I did sort of raise her for half a year after my mother passed away. We spoke recently about how when she was in 2nd or 3rd grade, so felt the same way.
Unfortunately, it's just who I am, but I don't think I want to be that part of me anymore. I am trying to keep this in mind and remind myself to stay in contact with more than just work friends. I want my children to know their family, especially their cousins. Its how I grew up, and it was wonderful to have people to turn to.
I am sure there are other regrets and we could go on listing them, but something I can say with 100% confidence, is that they are not running my life. I am not using them to fuel the negative, but instead turning them into life experience and wisdom to shift life towards the positive. I think my mom would like that and agree with that mentality.
We can't live life constantly thinking about what if. Maybe seeing my kids more often could have helped my mother in breaking the chain of darkness that had been haunting her for years. Maybe not. Who really knows, though I would like to think it would have. They are a positive force to be reckoned with in my own life currently.
Mom, I will always miss you, and it is hard to fathom the past 5 years without taking you into context. Thank you for helping me with homework all the years before college, and then continuing to believe in me after you were unable to provide that support. Thank you for being my #1 fan. I know you had a rough life and I hope that you have found peace in some form or another. Say hi to Papa, Angus, and all of the family and friends you may have come by in the afterlife.
Love you. Always. Andrew (because she hated Andy)
I think I am going to make song lyrics a thing on my blog for personal posts. I am a musical person, and I like the idea of associating points in my life with certain songs. So here goes…
Eulogy by Frank Turner
We spoke this one at my mother’s memorial service, and I still think its an apt description of her life:
Not everyone grows up to be an astronaut
Not everyone was born to be a king
Not everyone can be Freddie Mercury
But everyone can raise their glass and sing
Well I haven't always been a perfect person
Well I haven't done what mum and dad had dreamed
But on the day I die, I'll say at least I fucking tried
That's the only eulogy I need
That's the only eulogy I need.