My Mother Passed Away Today
I hadn’t planned on taking a break, but circumstances call for it. I’ve blogged about communication, change, persuasion and life for three days a week, just short of a year. I planned to keep up that pace. Instead, I’m taking the rest of this week off.
My mother passed away today. We’re flying to Ohio for the funeral, and I’m planning to stay on with my family for about 12 days, to offer support to my father during this transition, and to find a little comfort for myself as I work through the loss. All the years of my life, I never imagined a day would come when she would not be here. She was an amazing woman. How do you measure a life? Not in years, not in tears. I measure it in the memories created with her, and in the ways she contributed to the man I’ve become, and in the love she gave me which was immeasurable.
A friend gave us a card that said “A mother is the closest physical relationship a person can have.” Another friend said, “When you lose your mother, it’s like losing your safety net.”One of my students wrote to me that “A mother never really leaves her child. She’ll find a way to let you know that if you keep your eyes and ears open.” Someone else encouraged me not to be afraid to cry (I’m not, by the way. Fact is, I’m a bit of weeper. Heck, I cry at comedies!)
I do know this. My mother was a beautiful woman, intelligent, strong willed, driven, with a profound sense of right and wrong, and an intense desire to shape her world. She spoke her mind. She could come across as difficult. But she was doing her best, every step of the way, to be the best person she could be for all of us. If the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, I will be well served all my life by the character that developed in me because of my relationship with her.
My mother worked to put my father through school. She raised three children, and was married to my father for 65 years. One of my favorite memories of her is that she was so beautiful that boys I grew up with looked for excuses to get near to her. I remember Michael Shaeffer telling me to punch him in the eye so he could get my mother to put ice on it. I was afraid of him, so I did what he said, enjoyed it too. I remember watching him as my mother tended to him. He was smitten, mesmerized.
She cared about the way I looked and acted, and knew that the opinions of others play a role in a person’s choices and chances in life. She demanded my best, and I rebelled against her in my teen years. We struggled mightily. Then we made our peace, when I realized that it was because she loved me, she believed in me, and wanted everything for me.
I recently had a lucid dream in which I was with my mother in the nursing home. She told me she was going to die, but that there was something she wanted to show me before she left. And right before my eyes, I watched as the years fell away from her, all the pain, the difficulties, challenges, worries, struggles and doubts. And there she was, this beautiful girl, young woman, her eyes so bright, her face unlined. She smiled at me and it filled me with joy at seeing who she is, and she was filled with joy that I could see her this way. She took my hand and said, “I’m going, and you can only come with me part of the way.” We rose up, we were flying, it was very bright everywhere, we were so light, so free, and then somehow, it was just me, and the dream dissolved.
I won’t be blogging this week. I’m coming to grips with the fact that now I’m flying without a net. Mom, thank you for everything. I’ll not forget you. I’m looking and listening for you in everything I do now.
Rick is a best selling author and the founder of the Art of Change Skills for Life. His book titles include, Dealing with People You Can’t Stand: How to bring out the best in people at their worst, Life by Design and Influence and the Art of Persuasion. These days he is spending quality time away from the spotlight enjoying the company of his wife and practicing his electric guitar.