Friday, August 29, 2008

I Still Remember, Ma

I've written about my mother here and there before. She was a wonderful, kind woman who was taken by cancer at the much too young age of 55.

It was nine years ago today, at 4:05 p.m., when I was at St. Luke's Hospital, holding my mom's hand as she took her last breath.

I remember when I was a boy, she made sure to take the time from her busy day to teach me things. Things like how to sew a button on a shirt. How to cook a basic meal, one that didn't come from a can, a box, and needed more than four minutes in a microwave. How to wash my clothes, and to be sure to separate the colors from the whites. She taught me how to do comparative shopping, so that you can get the best deal, and the value of coupons. If I started to complain, she would tell me, in a uncanny prescient way, that if something ever happened to her, she would be damned if her son wouldn't be able to take care of himself.

I remember how proud she was when I graduated from high school. I remember how much prouder she was when I was the first member of my family, on either side, to graduate from college.

I remember, when, on my 15th birthday, she sat outside in the car, while I was inside for my first job interview. I remember how she seemed to be more nervous than I was, and how she cried with joy when I came out and told her that I had been hired.

I remember how proud she was of me when I would spend my spring breaks up north, helping my grandparents, chopping and hauling wood, running errands, and the such. I remember how she was proud of me for still taking my final exam before rushing up north to be in time for her mother's funeral. She had taught me that responsibilities are important, and family is one's number one responsibility.

She taught me how to laugh at myself. She taught me to think of how the other person might feel, before I say or do something rash. She taught me that I shouldn't sweat the small stuff and that it's all small stuff.

I remember how she laid in the hospital bed during the last month of her life, and despite feeling sick, despite being in constant pain from the cancer, she made sure I knew the recipes to all of the family's favorite meals. Even the odd things, like spaghetti made with tuna (don't knock it until you've tried it), or stroganoff, or goulash. I remember her telling me where she kept things around the house, because she knew my dad would forget and would end up calling and asking me if I knew where this thing or that thing was kept (she was right).

And every time she would tell me one of these things, she would always start out with, "Now remember..." Then she would quiz me to make sure I did remember.

Nine years later, and I still remember, Ma.


  1. Obviously a fine woman--and you're smart to remember.

  2. Missing her does her honor, Cap.

  3. Lovely. She sounds like a wonderful woman.

    It has been 10 years for me, and I do my best to remember every day.

  4. Thank you for the kind words, my friends. My family has always believed in family first. I know she would also be appreciative of your thoughts.