You see it all the time…news stories about abusive parents. Families ripped apart by tragic events. Drama fueled by drug and alcohol abuse. Tales like these end up as storylines on the Lifetime Movie Channel or in major motion pictures where people shell out big bucks to see this personal carnage on the big screen. Even Disney stories are threaded with characters who have been abandoned, abused, orphaned or oppressed by someone in their family.
With our minds constantly being bombarded with these tales of woe, it might seem as though people who grew up as an in-tact family unit are fictional characters; as if you aren’t normal if you didn’t come from a broken home or were, in some way, neglected, damaged or tortured. Although this article from the Huffington Post says the divorce rate is better than it appears…it still does “appear” to be everywhere.
If that’s the case, then my family is bizarre – Downright. Bat. Shit. Crazy. I tell you. I’m the daughter of two people who got married within weeks of knowing each other. They were together for 47 years when my mom passed away earlier this year. I don’t have any family horror stories befitting a movie of the week, let alone an article in a trashy tell-all magazine.
As a writer, I could lament the lack of drama and personal tragedy my seemingly hum-drum upbringing provided. However, I’ve done a lot of reflection in the weeks since she died. Many stories, movies, articles, news items are about extremes…usually negative…but extremes none the less.
Well, I guess my family is extreme. Extremely awesome!…largely because of my mom. She never won a Nobel Prize. She didn’t climb the corporate ladder. She wasn’t Miss America. She didn’t cure (or unfortunately even beat) cancer. She shied away from any spotlight, and didn’t even use her real name when she reluctantly signed up for Facebook. Despite all these things she didn’t do, I will tell you one thing she did do…she left a legacy.
Hers is a legacy of love, kindness, generosity and strength. It has colored every aspect of my life from my work ethics to how I deal with personal relationships; and from who I am as a mom to who I am as a wife (sorry, honey). I’m a busy woman. I’m a monogamously married, full-time working, desert-dwelling, highway commuting, offspring-raising woman who also volunteers with local charities and service clubs.
I am also a writer.
And as such, I have stories.
Even though my life isn’t a carbon copy of who my mother was, she definitely had an influence in the woman I have become today. This isn’t news to me. This isn’t an epiphany I got while making funeral arrangements. However, because I was so busy in her final days and after her passing, I haven’t properly mourned her. I keep waiting for it to come…that ugly cry that seems to go on for hours. I’ve seen it, you know, in the movies!
I feel it just under the surface, waiting to spring at some inopportune moment…perhaps in the middle of the grocery store or at the mall. (Oh who am I kidding. The husband shops for groceries and I avoid the mall like the plague.) But it’s not coming. What has flooded me are memories…recollections of our time together. Remembrances of lessons she taught me. Realizations of why I do some of the things I do.
The bottom line is that she will continue to live on through me and my daughter. And this legacy is definitely worth writing about. Isn’t that what books, movies, magazine articles and news items are about? They are about people and events who leave their mark on the world. She did, along with my dad.
I don’t care if another living soul ever comes across this blog. My mom was Loving, Kind, Generous and Strong and I need to record her legacy if for no other reason than it being my only way to mourn, well…celebrate, her.
I love you mom.