When did you lose your mother?
“I lost my mom November 30, 2011.”
Were you close to your mom? What type of relationship did you have?
“When I was younger, I’d say we were oil and water. We did not get along. We fought constantly. But, once I became a mother myself, the relationship definitely changed. As both of us got older, all that stuff, that teenage crap, just went away. It was important because my mom became very sick for the last five, six years of her life. I’m glad that we had a chance to get rid of that and get to know each other a little better as women and mothers. I was very ate grateful that I had that opportunity because I know that some people don’t get it. A lot of people tend to think “well, this is just the relationship. This is how it’s gonna be.” You have to work on it. Because some day, they’re not gonna be there. You have to make your peace with people. It’s just not worth it. Why carry it around with you? It just weighs you down. If she had passed away and we didn’t resolve it, it would’ve been much worse, a lot harder. And regret would’ve been part of it. There’s enough with grief that you don’t need to throw regret on top of it.”
How has losing her affected you?
“Like I said, she was sick for a very long time. As a matter of fact, for the last two years of her life she was bed ridden. She had emphysema, lung cancer and moderate dementia. She had her good days and bad days with her dementia. So, when she first died, as sad as this sounds, it was almost a relief because I knew she wasn’t suffering anymore. And that was exactly how she wants the end of her life NOT to be. She said, “if I get like THAT” meaning stuck in bed, “shoot me”. That’s what she used to tell me. When she had first been told she needed to be on bed rest, cause she just couldn’t walk, she couldn’t breathe. So she looked at me and I said “No! I’m not going to shoot you!” She laughed. So at first it was a little bit of a relief. That week after she died, you’re just so busy, constantly going, getting things ready and you just want to honor that person by making sure that everything’s done the way they wanted it. And I wanted to help to make sure that my dad was ok. It hits you more, I’d say, like two weeks later. All of the sudden, we hit the holidays. My mother died right before the holidays. I’m out there and I’m doing things and I would look at something and say “Oh, maybe my mom would like that”, and it dawns on me that she’s not there anymore. It’s this hole that’s never going to be filled again. You get better but there are times you just sit there and go “wow, I just really wish she was here to be with me”. Sometimes, even when you’re an adult, you need your cheerleader, and that’s your mom. Even when we were oil and water, I always knew she had my back. I’ve had some difficulties lately and not having that voice is really hard. You always know that your parents are there to do the best for you. And sometimes when you go through hard stuff, it’s like you’re 5 all over again and you need your mom and she’s not there. But then I think if she was here, she’d be really sick, so she’s in a better place. So it’s for the best.”
What did you learn from your mom that you believe will last you through your lifetime band has helped you with raising your own daughter and son?
“I think because my mother and I, when I was younger, had such a rough relationship, I was determined I wouldn’t have that with my daughter. And it hasn’t. My daughter and I are extremely close and get along. I think the other part of it is, and even my brother will say he was the favorite child, is that I try to be very fair when it comes to my children. I try to treat them the same. And I think that one thing I learned from my mother is that that’s a job that you never get rid of. You will always have to be in their corner. Even if sometimes you’re fighting with them. As an adult I look back and I feel that she did the best that she could and she did what she believed, as a mother, was right. I may not have agreed with it when I was younger, and some things she was very right on, but I always felt like she was doing it out of love. I never thought she was doing it to spite me. I know some people have that relationship with their children and I don’t understand that. I feel that my kids know that I’m in their corner. There is nothing in this world that you can do that will make me completely hate you. I may fight with you and disagree with you, but I will always love you. And that was a message she always got across and I hope I got that across to my kids. I really do.”
What would you want people to remember about her?
“She was a good person. My mother was very lady like and quiet. Which is not me by any stretch of the imagination. She was always kind. Even if she didn’t like somebody, she would never be cruel. She never gossiped about people, which was a big thing. She’d been through a lot in her life and she was a lot stronger than we even realized. Sometimes you look at someone’s life through a child’s eyes and it’s one way and when you look back and you see what they endured, what you find out later as an adult, you find out how strong somebody can be. We went through unemployment and a lot of money issues in our house and my mom always tried to hold it together. My brother and I never wanted for anything. We always had food. We always had clothes. We had proms. We had extras, not much, but we had them. Because my parents both sacrificed to make sure that we had that. And I think that’s something that I still do. Sometimes I think we do that too much. I wonder if we’re harming or helping. Ya know?
I think the one message that my mother would want to get out is to quit smoking. Honest to God, that’s what she would want people to know. Because she told us in one of her more lucid moments that she wished she had quit. You think that you’re gonna be in your 70’s before it affects you and then there you are in your 70’s and you’re really sick. She said “I’m so glad you don’t smoke. Tell people not to smoke.” She really wound up paying for it in the end. That was a big message for her and I’m glad I got that out. I used to smoke so I don’t like to be one of those preachy ex-smokers cause I know how hard it is to quit. It’s not easy. My mom would tell you to not even bother.”