Friday, May 6, 2011

Mother's Day

May 5, 2011

             Dear Andrea,

            “Are you going to call in crazy this morning?” Steve asks me as he empties the dishwasher.  I stand at the sliding glass door, looking out at my backyard.  I am getting ready to sit down and write.  I am contemplating ways to describe the new green leaves, the red and yellow zinnias, the heirloom tomato plants waiting to be planted. 
            I turn around and look at him.  “No crazy this morning.  At least not yet.”  I answer.
            For the last two days my brain has been like the hummingbirds that come to visit my garden.  It darts here and there, hovers for a moment at some sweet thought, searches for bright shiny things.  I can’t keep up.  All those wings beating create a blur--their humming blocks out the sound of everything. 
            Mother’s Day is Sunday.  I dread it.  This was always our day.  A day you always found a way to make special.  I could not count on my husband to.  Dean would tell me, “You aren’t my mother.”  Never mind I was stepmother to his boys.  His boys I never hear from now. 
           Your sister almost never calls me.
           Though I know you might not understand the import of this fully--and I felt like if I tried to explain this you while you were alive, it would seem like I was trying to make excuses for some perceived shortfall (yours or mine)--I was a mother without a mom.  No one to talk about colic, when to introduce solid foods, how to potty train.  Everything I learned came by trial and error—or I read about it in Parent’s magazine while sitting in the pediatrician’s office waiting to be called into an examination room for your checkups and immunizations.  
           When I was eight, my own mother told me she was going shopping, dropped us off at an aunt’s and never came back.  My stepmother made Cinderella’s look like Donna Reed.  I am not sure what I was to her, but I never was a child.  And though hate is a strong word, I am pretty sure she hated me. 
            In my mid twenties, when you were born, I was not yet far enough removed from my own childhood to escape its influence.  I had been traumatized, and traumas never leave you.  In fact, at some level, they always define you.  No matter who you become.  I have just gotten really good at covering.     
            I tried to be the mother I never had, and fantasized about when I was a little girl and built castles out of spare lumber and cardboard for my imaginary children.  I know I was not a perfect mother.  I know there is no such thing. For all the things I never had a chance to say that I was sorry for—I am sorry.
            For all those times I never took the time to tell you how much I love you—I hope you knew and now know just how much. I will always love you. 
            On Sunday, Mother’s Day, I am going to join Lisa and her family at their church where Annalise will be blessed.  She is three months old now.  Yesterday I went to the storage unit where there are boxes with your handwriting, things you were saving for later.  I searched for the white knit blanket you were wrapped in when you were baptized.  I want to offer it to Lisa to wrap Annalise in when she is blessed.  I could not find it.  Instead I found the Cabbage Patch Doll I made you for your second Christmas.  I could not afford to buy a real one.  She is wearing a nightgown you wore as a baby.  I sat it gently in the front seat of the car.  Closed the metal pull down door.  Put the lock through the narrow opening in the latch.  When I got behing the steering wheel I buckled my seatbelt and closed my eyes.
            You appeared, riding your Wonder Horse in front of the dining room.  You had a pair of bright pink footed blanket pajamas on.  Your hair was dark and wild and curly.  In your arm was the Cabbage Patch doll.  You were taking her for a ride.  You were laughing.
            You did know.  You knew I was your mother and I loved you.

                                                                                           My heart is always looking for you,