Missing Mom; One Year Anniversary of Her Death
Today is the year anniversary of my Mother’s death. I have been up all night as this day is particularly hard for me. I am perhaps one of the lucky ones because it is only a hard day and has not been a particularly hard month. Being moderately ill during the Holidays, helped, has given me perspective for this day. I thought I might just sail through the one year anniversary of my Mother’s death. I thought it might not affect me. After all I have done a tremendous amount of working in this last year to build a better life for my son and myself. But I miss her still. Over the last year I have found myself so many times wanting to tell her something or when the telephone rings I am certain it is her calling me. In the last five days of her life, and my Mother was extraordinarily sick, she still managed to call me.
My Mother Rang Thrice!!
Actually my Mother called me at least three times a day even when I was in graduate school. And while I was exceptionally busy in graduate school, even during exam week, I spoke to my Mother three times day. I still did it. My Mother was my most consistent caller in my life.
The Baby Hugger
When I had my son as a single parent, my Mother was there and fully embraced her job as Nana. She would dance with my infant son in her arms through the night. And she did this every single night of his first year in which he was on a heart monitor that frequently went off. My Mother also thought I was weird to make all of my son’s baby food but I refused to feed him Gerber. My Mother swore by Gerber and would try to feed my child bootleg Gerber when she watched him. Fortunately my son preferred his own homemade baby food. And because my son was on a heart monitor and was at high risk of Apnea he slept in the bed with me. My son is and has always been a warm fuzzy kind of person. So I would hold him all night long when he was an infant. This created the phenomena of the baby hugger. My Mother loved holding my son because he was so loving in the day but to be able to hold the baby and be the official baby hugger was my Mother’s great aspiration. She official left her husband, my stepfather’s bed, for years to sleep in the bed with me to just have a shot at the baby hugging job. And while my son loved his Nana, I am his Mom and the official baby hugger so he didn’t readily hug her in her sleep. It took her years to get him to hug her while she slept. Honestly there were many nights in which my son would take up the whole bed and leave my Mother and I to sleep elsewhere.
My Mom and my son’s Nana was so fetching in that she spent years getting my son to hug her in his sleep. It is those things I miss about her most. I never gave it much thought about having to hug my son when he slept. The boy wanted to be hugged so I hugged him. My Mother relentless picked on me, claiming my son climbed back into the womb every evening when he entered into the bed. He was as brutal to sleep with as he was to carry. It was so important to my Mom that she be the baby hugger. She kept insisting on this job even after she was diagnosed with cancer. I thought it was a bad idea. But the oncologist told me it was perfectly safe as my Mother was in remission.
Mom’s First Fondue Experience
For years before my Mother was diagnosed with rectal cancer she wouldn’t eat. It made for a very unhappy household between my step father and myself because we didn’t eat unless my Mother did. We believed in the evening super. My Mother refused to eat for years before she was actually diagnosed. We are German and don’t readily go to the doctor. I think we often believe the cure is worse then the disease. We also believe the body is quite capable of healing itself so we really don’t go to the doctor unless we are doubled over in pain. Loss of appetite is not a symptom to us but a wonderful dieting opportunity.
I noticed before my Mother was diagnosed she was too thin. I could smell the cancer. She was told by the step father’s best friend/ her physician she had hemorrhoids. I didn’t believe this but quietly kept trying to come up with inventive ways of enticing her to eat. The more elaborate the meal the more leverage I would have to get her to eat.
So I would cook foods from all around the world and go into these elaborate dinners in order to just get my Mother to eat something. Not to mention the step father was a lot less cranky when he had food on his plate.
One night I fixed her Fondue and I have to say she enjoyed it but she was not a fan of what it did to her. We had no idea she had rectal cancer at the time and it whipped right through her pipes and cleaned her out at once. I had warned her in advance not to eat too much fondue but as usual she told me she could handle herself. Mom never really had colon cancer. It was all just rectal cancer that metastasized.
Mom Was Cool
Whether it was watching the triple crown and picking the horses which we did each year or if it was trading commodities between hurricanes when our town was completely destroyed, Mom was cool. She had me call the NYSE and the Chicago board and trade Orange Juice contracts between hurricane Francis and Wilma. Mom/Nana/ the baby holder was so ambitious she wanted to study for her series 65 which is her certified financial planners license but Mom was a procrastinator. So she took me on a fake holiday in which we sat in hotel rooms and studied for the series 65. I thought I was in for a real vacation but my Mom needed me to pace her studying. Of course she procrastinated and entertained my son and I ended up studying the entire time but she had a good time. Then she would get mad at me if I got higher scores than her on the practice tests. I was the only one studying, of course I received higher marks on the practice tests.
Mom Owned Christmas
There wasn’t a year in which my Mother didn’t own Christmas. She wasn’t much of a homemaker and that was always my responsibility but she owned Christmas. And it began as soon as you could pull your body off the coach after Thanksgiving. We would always have one of the best decorated homes and everyone loved being in our home during the holidays.
I recognize I will have to start owning Christmas for my son now but I wasn’t ready this year.
Mom The Competitor
I can’t say why my Mom was the ultimate competitor perhaps it was because she had a diabetic sister and the only ways she could get any attention was to do extraordinary things but my Mother was the ultimate competitor. I never really understood this about her except that it was her. Being brought up in New York and a talented Dancer she was a regular on American Band Stand which her parents forbid. When they found out they moved her down to Florida to this small town we still reside in when she was 15. As one of the first Yankee’s in Florida they would make fun of her accent and make her read aloud in class. My Mother learned immediately to speak southern. And after her Yankee education, Mom didn’t have to study too hard in the South. At 19 she lost her entire family with in months. Only her older brother and sister survived and they were 19 years apart so my Mother had to bury everyone by herself. She was the first lady of the town in which I lived. She was an avid Tennis player and ran tournaments. My Mom even intentionally faked her Tennis performance so she would be placed on the B team as an Ace player so she could dominate the courts and win tournaments.
I remember when I was a teenager and in gymnastics my Mom insisted I do a front hand spring. I am about four inches taller than my Mother was. I didn’t think the physics were there. I knew I had reached a height in which I would not be able to compete as a gymnast. Yet my Mother insisted I dominate the gym team. At 41 years of age she did a front hand spring right through the living room. I have to say my jaw was on the floor when she did it and I wondered if she might break a bone. Afterwards my Mother told me to stop being a sissy and do the front hand spring as it was only mind over matter. I did do the front hand spring but was still released from the gymnastics team for being to tall. My Mother wanted to fight it but I knew the physics were not there and so did the gymnastics coach. Besides I didn’t want my Mother to throw another floor routine in the living room at 41 years old. There was no sense in anyone getting hurt over the laws of physics.
Mom hated to be a loser which seemed preposterous to me my entire life since I viewed life as a series of losing events until I died. I just thought there were opportunities in losing to learn. Mom couldn’t have disagreed with me more and there was nothing worse then she hated then a loser especially if it were herself.
The $150 Garden Club Project
My Mother also belonged to Garden Club and we had gardens but she was a fierce competitor when given the opportunity. So there was a fruit/flower arrangement contest. This was back in the late 1970(s) and early 1980(s). My Mother was unemployed at the time and worked on this flower/fruit/vegetable arrangement for weeks. So much so she would get it to where she would like it but the food was spoiled. It was a daily enterprise this arrangement in our lives in which we would all look at it and wonder. My Mother was never satisfied with the arrangement either. She always saw a way to improve it. Everything in our lives stopped for this competition and my Mother was determined to win it. By the time she was done I remember Irises and an eggplant in it. She did win but it was hundreds of hours of work and $150 in flowers and food for this arrangement In the 1970(s). After my Mother came home with the prize she quit the Garden Club as she decided it was best to go out on top. To this day I can not figure out what was so extraordinary about this arrangement but for the diversity of things she used in it and my Mother’s relentless pursuit of the award.
I really offend my Mother when I was perplexed by her ambition and I asked if arrangements were wasteful. I think she told me if I had be raised in New York like I should have been I would be cultured enough to understand the inportance of flower arranging.
The Baby/Young Man Who We Hugged
As I Am Closing In On the Hour of Her Death
I must admit I miss those little quirky things that made my Mother the person who she was. I was never ambitious because I knew my Mother was served two helpings and she would always push and drive me so hard to conquer and that is not who I am at all. My son misses being fought over and having Nana his second Mother to fight over him. Now he has just me who is with him each day. I have to say that I miss my Mom but I am enjoying my time with my son.
Someone told me I shouldn’t hug my son in public. And as this time passes I will hold him and hug him as much as he needs to get through his grief as it is hard on both of us.
We lost someone who was never sick a day in her life and could do front hand springs through the house in her 40(s). I personally stopped doing hand springs all together when I learned I was 3 months pregnant. We miss that person in our lives who laid siege to everything that lied in her path. And someone by all measures was in conquerable until she was taken by rectal cancer.
I tried to write a witty poem about all of this but this is not witty. Then I thought I could make it seem beautiful but death isn’t beautiful. It is apart of life to accept we are all here temporarily. So since all of you have been so kind to share at least half a year of grief with me, I thought I would share the anniversary which no one wants, which is a death anniversary, but with some of the little happy moments of our life before the Cancer came in and took away our good sport.
My Mom is resting in peace now if not over throwing heaven or perhaps even hell. Mom was well loved by us. My son and I will get through this day and perhaps next year we will not even notice the day but we will never stop missing Mom/Nana/The Ultimate Baby Hugger.
I want to thank all my HP friends who have helped me through this time. It has been an incredible journey through grief through writing. In hindsight it may not be the best time to start write right after my Mother’s death but it has helped me heal a bit.
I write in her name as a living eternal memorial on the Internet.
Mitochondrial Disease Awareness Week September 14-21
We are now three years past my Mom's death and there are still moments I would like to ask her something or just share something with her. My son and I have grown closer but he has matured and likes girls now so hanging with me is not cool.
Ironically, my Father is fading rapidly and I faced my own cancer scare this year. When given the opportunity I help other families who have severe or terminal illnesses. I advocate for my son and he is about to receive his first treatment for his mitochondrial disease. It hurts my Mom will not get to see it but I am taking care of the baby/young man/Alex.
Amazingly, by far this is the most popular article I have written on hubpages. Thank you for the support through the years.