Friday, May 06, 2011

Dear Mom

Dear Mom,

This is Mother’s Day weekend.  I’m thinking about you 8,000 miles away.  I’m traveling to see you later this month. I’m experiencing a mix of emotions that vacillate between extreme excitement at spending time with you, and excruciating anxiety about witnessing your deteriorating health firsthand.

When I’m there, I may be faced with the decision of helping you to move to a senior citizen facility because family members are finding it harder to care for you at home. I’m sad and confused about the right thing to do because I’m so far away and I can’t be there to help on a daily basis.

When I came to America at a young carefree age, I never thought ahead to the day when I’d be divorced with limited resources as I, myself, age and feel so helpless about your continued care. Perhaps you knew {not about the divorce but} about the hardships of life, and that is why you were so sad to let me go from Cape Town to Chicago. Yet, you gave me your endorsement and you told me a mother has done her job when she raises independent children who can fly the nest in the same way baby birds do.  Thanks, Mom! Like you, I have now also raised 3 independent children, who have flown far from home, but I can be so proud of them. You taught me so many lessons about good parenting.

Another lesson you taught me was that if I was doing the best I could do, it was good enough for you.  Mom – that was an amazing gift.  I have seen so many parents put undue pressure on their children and perhaps, I did a little more of that than I should have with my own, but I tried to follow your example and let my children know that I love them unconditionally just the way they are  ~  they were, and still are, good enough for me.

I was trying to think of memories we made together, the one thing that stands out over and over again is all the knitting, sewing, embroidery and smocking you taught me. It’s possible that I would have learned some of this later on in my life, but you were always knitting and sewing clothes for your family and made sure I learned the art too.  I had my own knitting needles at the age of four, and I embroidered flowers on a pair of baby bootees that I made when I was in preschool.  You taught me to smock when you found dot transfers in a cabinet when I was about 8 because it was a “dying art.” You gave me my first sewing machine for my 11th birthday because I was churning out so many Barbie clothes you thought I might be able to sew for myself.  After that I never stopped sewing. You and Dad gave me a fancy Elna for my 21st birthday. You helped me make my wedding gown and all my attendants’ dresses.  Then I made my own children’s smocked suits and dresses.  I taught so many others sewing and smocking skills as well until I stopped abruptly about 4 or 5 years ago.  Mom, this was a precious gift and it formed me into a big part of who I am.  I promise I'm on my way to restructuring my time and priorities so I can have it back in my life.

And Mom – one more thing. You had everything to do with the love of tea in my life.  I can’t remember NOT drinking tea. Every day. Ever. You made teatime a ritual in our home…teapots, tealeaves, tea cosies, tea strainers and beautiful porcelain cups.  I have a special memory of you bringing me lashings of tea when I was in high school, doing homework or studying for an exam. 

Anyway, I’ll see you soon. I’ll bring small projects I’m already planning ~ some knitting and some stitching.  We’ll sit together in the winter sun and catch up. I’m making lists of things I want to ask you that only you will remember. We’ll make time to reminisce. I'll do whatever I can to help you get settled if you move while I'm there.  

And please, if you’re able, will you make me a cup of Five Roses?

I love you forever