It was the first visit without Dad. They always came in a pair except now she’s “flying solo”. I wonder if she can navigate without him. Entering the room, she says a quick hello and rushes to the bathroom. It was a long, snowy, lonely drive from the Cape for an 85-year-old. As she left the room, I turned to Jamie frowning and told him I miss my Dad, with only my eyes. He understood and nodded his head. Dad has been gone for three months and now it was time to learn who this woman was to me. Who we all were without Dad.
We were excited to have Mom visit but didn’t know what it would look like. Dad would always make a joke or comment to take her out of her own head. She could be bossy, nosy, critical and opinionated, not to mention stubborn. Mom could also be very loving in a restrictive, lukewarm, guarded way as only an Irish Mother can pull off. If I poured a glass of wine before 5pm on a Saturday, Mom would either make a slanted comment or give me the “hairy eyeball.” He, on the other hand, would enthusiastically ask me if the wine was good inquiring like a Sommelier at a fine restaurant. Dad accepted who I am with all my flaws. I guess you could say that Dad was a buffer between me and my mother. He always had my back.
We passed the time watching TV, shopping and eating. She helped me with wedding plans and we attended Mass on Saturday (before I had my wine). She only criticized me a few times. Overall, we had a good time. I’m starting to get to know that strong, willful person who raised me. I never really took the time to get to know her before. The way I see it, I have a choice. I can reacquaint myself with Mom and get to a new level or continue to grieve a loss without looking forward. We have a brand-new opportunity to reach out and define ourselves; become reborn in the shadow of death. Even though she can irritate me, I do recognize that who she is makes her whole and beautiful. If it wasn’t for her showing me strength and resilience, I wouldn’t be the person I am today.
I have to accept that the missing puzzle piece is gone forever. The circle has been broken and has left a wide gap. Is it up to Mom to fill the void? No, she has her own place. I was afraid that I wouldn’t know who she would be as a single person. Now I’m realizing that she’s always been her own person. I can see that navigating her way through life alone is not a problem for her. She misses Dad but his absence is part of life, our life. We didn’t talk about my father much during the visit, but he was there in our hearts and in the music of the wind chimes outside.
I love you Mom.