Tomorrow, I'm going to plant flowers and other stuff in my yard. Ana and I went to the most amazing garden center today (Mahoney's Garden Center), and spent far too much money. We got tomato and pepper plants (several varieties of each), and flowers, and ground cover-ish stuff, and two hanging baskets of petunias for the front of our garage.
There's a reason I wanted to plant stuff tomorrow. In every house I've lived (after I split up with the evil ex), my mom visited and, while visiting, managed to get me to a garden center, spent far too much money, and took me home to plant all of the amazing stuff. The year I lived in Asheville, NC, I fed several of my trailer park neighbors with my chilis and tomatoes (most of my neighbors were Latino, and they shared what they cooked with me). In Wilmington, we planted squash and cucumbers and tomatoes and peppers.
Here, in Boston suburbia, we made flower gardens, that I'm recreating and supplementing. It's slightly too early for the peppers and tomatoes, but we can put the marigolds in the ground now, and maybe even some of the herbs. Certainly, the daisies and the sunflowers. Tomorrow, I'm gardening, and I'll think of those times with my mom when we worked side-by-side to make my tiny little corner of the world better.
In 2003, I was waiting tables and broke. Mother's Day came around and I had no idea what to do. So I posted a tribute to my mom on the web, on the diary I was keeping then. I gave her the URL, but she never said anything about it. A couple of months later, I went to the beach with my family, and my girlfriend dumped me, and I was pretty bummed. My mom and I were in the car, and I'd put in an Ani Difranco cd (which my mom listened to without comment). My mom started talking about a song she'd sung to me when I was tiny, and I started to cry. I asked her, "Did you ever go look at that thing I wrote you?"
"Yeah," she said, tears in her voice. "It made me cry."
Here it is. I still mean it.
May 10, 2003
It is nearly 2am here in North Carolina, and I just got home from work. I took care of my babies, threw some laundry in to wash, and ate my dinner of sushi. And I thought about my mom while I tasted the eye-tingling wasabi and the tangy ginger. My mother would probably never have made a special trip to the grocery store for sushi, but it's because of her that I eat sushi now. She taught me from an early age to be an adventurous eater, to try new things, and though I've never developed a taste for collards or garden peas, I will eat just about anything.
Mama taught me a lot: about how to be independent and self-reliant, about how to take joy in a beautiful sky or a silly pet, about how to create my own fun. Most importantly, I think, she taught me about karma, though she didn't call it that: "What goes around, comes around," she would say. And she was right.
My mom has always been available to me. When my most significant (and most screwed up) relationship ended, my mom offered to drive the two hours to Raleigh the day before Thanksgiving to pick me up. And she was sad with me and never once said, "I told you so." At least not until I'd had time to heal--then she couldn't say it enough. When I didn't get even an interview for the full-time teaching job at the University, she listened to me, reassured me, and promised me that I will find something even better. And I believe her.
She has always been this way. When I was maybe sixteen or seventeen, I often drove my younger brother to his middle school--out in the middle of nowhere. The clutch on my little 1982 Pontiac died maybe a quarter of a mile from the school, and I panicked. My car wouldn't move, and my first impulse was to call Mama at work, even though I could have called my father or my grandmother, who were both at their homes. Mama left her job and came to get me, and, when I saw her, I burst into hysterical sobs--and she cried with me. When I was nineteen and my grandmother--her mother--died, the first person close to me I'd lost, she supported me, getting me through the visitation and the funeral relatively unscathed, though I can't even imagine how difficult that must have been for her. She is my anchor in this life.
Mama is the person I want to talk to first when bad things happen and when good things happen--when it's something silly like mowing the grass for the first time with my new lawnmower, or when it's real, like when Silas, my baby boy kitty, came into my life. She is always the person I first think to call when I'm lonely or just bored.
Or when I'm sick, and I start a conversation with, "Ok, I need you to be a nurse now." I can ask her anything health-related, no matter how personal or embarrassing, and she answers with complete professionalism. Sometimes, though, I'm sick and I just want my mom; I want her to pet my hair and soothe my coughs and sing to me like when I was a baby. Somehow, she always manages to be what I need her to be.
But most of all, at this point in my life, I need her to be my friend, and she is. It amazes me how far we've come in our relationship--after the hell that was my adolescence (which lasted until my early twenties), we began to see each other as adults--people in our own rights, separate from our identities as mother and daughter. Sometimes I think how strange it must be for her to look at me and simultaneously see the woman I've become and the baby I was.
If I ever have a daughter, I wonder if I will be able to separate the person from my baby as well as she has. And I wonder if I will have the fortitude to teach her to stand on her own, to have faith in herself. My mom was able to find her way as a mother nearly a decade younger than I am now, and, while I don't know that I will have her resourcefulness, I know that because of her, I could be a good mother.
So, Mama, thank you. For all you've done for me and for all you've been for me. I love you.
Happy Mother's Day
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