January 24, 1985, my mother died of lung and liver cancer at the age of 42. Two months before her death, I turned 23 years old. She died two weeks before her birthday. When I was growing up, my mother and I went through the usual trials that seemed to push us worlds apart. However, by the time I reached adulthood, our relationship had blossomed into one of mutual respect and close friendship. I really miss her.
This year, the twenty-third anniversary of her death, I realized that I have been without my mother for half of my life. Over the years, it has been difficult watching mothers and daughters shopping at the mall, laughing at some private joke during lunch or walking through the park hand in hand. I am often amazed when my girlfriends talk about the wonderful times they have with their mothers, and even the difficult moments filled with mother/daughter issues.
How I wish my mother were here today.
Lately, I have been wondering what life would be like if my mother had not been taken by such a terrible disease. Where would she be, what would she be doing? What life transformations would she have gone through to become a human being of today?
Would she be shocked that a woman and African American are running for president?
Would she be involved in combating global warming?
Would she still make her beautiful quilts, crochet afghans for every family member, or bake those wonderful lemon meringue pies I remember so well from my childhood?
If she were alive today, I know that she would be proud of me. She taught me to stand up for myself, make my own way, and learn how to take care of myself. I have a wonderful life filled with family, boyfriend (who she would really like, by the way), a great career, and I own my home. I don’t have many possessions, but I have all I need and some of what I want. I think she would like my cats Buddy and Oliver as well.
I am grateful to my mother for her love, and for encouraging me to write. I still treasure two books she gave me in 1980 when I was 18 years old and sure I wanted to make a living writing: How to Write Short Stories that Sell by Louise Boggess and Make Every Word Count by Gary Provost. I am still writing my short stories and working on a novel, have had a few publications, and my career includes a vast amount of writing. I feel like I have succeeded.
Thank you, Mom, for all you have given me and for your spirit being present each day of my life.