Monday, April 26, 2010

Things I wish I could tell my mother

I now understand why, every time you were hospitalized, the first thing you said to me was “Bring me my tweezers and a magnifying mirror.” At my age now, I don’t think I’d want to be too far from those items for any length of time. Those wayward hairs seem to crop up out of nowhere.

Banded bottoms are back! I apologize for rolling my eyes while you wandered up and down the aisles of TJ Maxx or Carson’s complaining that nobody made tops with banded bottoms anymore. “That’s old,” I said. “Nobody wears those styles anymore.” Lo and behold: I can’t browse a clothing rack now without seeing those (I still think) unsightly banded bottoms. Sorry, Mom. But you must have known that everything comes around again…eventually.

I wish I’d listened more carefully to your stories of your childhood, my early childhood, and other memories. I have hundreds of questions I’d love to have answers to, and I can’t think of anyone else who would know.

I have a little more empathy now about your insisting on describing every symptom you had, even those that should remain in the bathroom… When I complained, you said “Daddy’s gone. I have no one else to tell these things to.” Now that I’m five years older since you passed away, I understand these concerns a little better (but I still wouldn’t describe them to my daughters).

I still have all the quarters you were saving for your mah jongg, poker, and Kaluki games. Someday I’ll spend them or take them to a bank, but right now they’re part of a shrine that includes many of your other collections I can’t yet part with.

You didn’t live to see the Great Recession of 2008-2009, and I’m grateful for that. Seeing your stock purchases—with which you were much more astute than I’ll ever be—nosedive would have made you crazy with anger. But now that I’ve experienced my own loss and worry over finances, I not only recognize your Depression-era frugality, as I always have, I can almost feel it. I apologize for laughing when you saved Styrofoam produce trays and every tie band that entered the house.

My anger and resentment evaporated in those last terrible days you were in intensive care, and they haven’t ever come back. Before that, I had an arsenal ready to bring out at the slightest push (yours) of any of a number of buttons (mine). My frequent internal arguments with you in anticipation of your disapproval of something I hadn’t told you yet disappeared. I’m sorry I didn’t develop the confidence to deal with you on an adult level when you were here. But I am confident you knew I loved you.

I have my hair highlighted with some pretty light streaks—almost blond in a few places. You nagged me to do this for years, but I always told you I hated that very-light-on-dark look. I am eating those words, and they don't taste so bad. I get compliments on my hair color, so I hereby state, much too late: You were right, Mom. About a lot of things.