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Her heart broke in so many pieces, and she took each piece and gave it to someone else until she made them whole.

I’ve always said my mom is my true love. Don’t get me wrong, I have loved others deeply and all consuming. After all, I have been married thirty years, and we have been together even longer than that. I love my husband passionately and with all my being! He is my soulmate, my security blanket and my comfortable, safe place. And I have children who take up so much of my heart, leaving little space for others to join. But my mother is my true, first love. How could she not be? She gave me life. She carved me into the woman I am today by word and example. My highs are only as high as the ladder I build, but the first step was placed by my mom. My lows can bury me deep underground where I find it hard to find the way out, but then she would reach in and pull me back to her safe above. Perhaps that is why I have taken such a long break from writing, social media and parts of my life. I’m buried. I’m lost and her hand is no longer there to pull me to safety.

My mom died December 4th, 2020. Wow, that is the first time I have written that down. I stare at the date, and it seems like an eternity ago, yet just yesterday. I’ve known grief before. It would be unlikely to have reached fifty-six without having lost a loved one. In the last two years alone, I have lost four cats, three uncles, a cousin, a dear nephew, my grandmother and my mom. It has been a difficult two years. I’m not a stranger to grief. But nothing prepared me for the hollowness of losing my mom. It drew me deep underground making everything difficult to do. Even the simplest things seemed impossible. I couldn’t even write about her which created an emptiness deep down since I never honored her life. She died in the midst of a pandemic, so even a funeral wasn’t safe, so no words were spoken to honor the incredible life she led and the amazing woman she was. In essence, she was cheated…our family was cheated, and I failed by letting the words I should have written, disappear never to be said. So, two years later, I am trying to right the wrong and do what I love and what I have forsaken for two years, and that which she was so proud and thrilled that I was doing with my life – writing. I will put to words what she meant to me the best I know how.

When I was young, I used to love watching her sew. She made most, if not all my clothes when I was little. I can still see her long, slender fingers as she guided the material through the machine. It was the beginning of my watching her closely, the way she moved, how she talked, what she said. So many people say I am so much like her. Perhaps some of that comes from watching her so closely and in turn it became a part of me. I don’t have any items of clothes she made for me as a child, but I have plenty of pictures of myself in them. She was so resourceful!

And speaking of pictures, she loved photography and because of that love, we have so many wonderful memories we can look back on. She was organized so they are all nicely placed in photo books for display.

She was a huge White Sox fan and later in life a St Louis Cardinals fan as well. The best note we received after she passed away was from a childhood friend who told us my mom loved the White Sox so much as a child, and when they played, she always pretended she was married to Nellie Fox (only true White Sox fans will know who that is). It was lovely to hear a small story about my mom’s childhood. It helped us during the grief! Mom didn’t talk about herself much. She was selfless and more interested in us than herself.

One of the best things about my mom was her laugh and she laughed a lot. It was hard not to when being married to my dad, who is quite a funny man, but also her brother, my Uncle Gail, was quite funny as is my brother and now my kids. Each of them made her laugh quite often (my husband as well but mostly, gracefully allowing it to be about something funny he did). At times she’d giggle to a point she couldn’t stop. I can still hear it today if I close my eyes and think about it.

My mom was compassionate and generous to a fault! She worked years after my father retired and said some of the reasons for doing so was so she’d have extra money to spend on my kids. Oh, how she loved kids! She was a fantastic grandmother who adored her grandchildren and in return they adored her! She was a second mother to them, and her home was a second home! One of the worst things I ever had to do was tell my children she was gone.

But most of all she was love. Her being radiated love and anyone who took the time to know her would know how true this statement is. She loved with all her heart! Her family, immediate but also extended, she loved them all! It sits in me, and lights be up and keeps me going knowing how much she loved me! That is her legacy, and it is the best sort of legacy to leave the world!

There are so many other traits and so many other stories I could write about her which could fill a book. In fact, one day I hope to do just that. She was so proud of me! She always was, even before I started writing. I framed a letter she wrote long ago when I was in college (another form of art now lost in this technology world) and in it she wrote, “I’m so proud of you and all you’ve accomplished so far. You’ve worked so hard and earned it all yourself.”

True love, that was my mom! I haven’t done much to make her proud these days. I will fix that now, since her legacy of love is in me, my brothers and her grandchildren. Her legacy was love and to honor it, I need to live. So now, I write. I will continue my journey but this time she will have to follow along in my heart. Once again, I feel her reach down and pull me up to her, and she holds me safely. I can feel her hands now, warm and soft as she draws me near, and she whispers, “I’m so proud of you!”

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