Letter to Mom

Letter to Mom on Mother’s Day By Beth Blair

May 13th, 2016


Dear Mom,

I won’t be placing flowers on your grave.  I haven’t in the almost five years since you have been gone. That never was my practice.  I do think of you often and hear things in my head that you taught me, Like “why use the word utilize when the word use is just as effective.” Your English Major, “grammar police” has been passed down to Brian and I am grateful to have him proof and redline my writing, from time to time.  As I sit here writing this, with the memories flooding in, I look to the picture of you in Peru, getting blessed by the Shaman. You were a badass and a pain in the ass too! I love you for both.

Mom and the Shaman in Peru

Mother’s Day stirs up so much for many, the question of what to get mom,  the last minute card buy, the sadness of those missing their mothers, the mothers missing their children and the mixed feelings for those not having/wanting children. Yet, it is more than a Hallmark Holiday! It is a day to celebrate and it is not because it is the only day “moms get the day off.” Yes, it is one of the biggest restaurant and brunch days of the year.  We celebrate with a meal because words don’t touch the appreciation (even if you don’t have the best relationship with your mom) for life.  Yes, we could get into the whole creation debate and God, but let’s not.  Women’s bodies are mystical.  They can grow another person inside of them.  That is pretty badass.  The thing that has struck me with tremendous gratitude for life is that as a baby, I heard your heart beat from the inside. My son heard mine. That is a powerful experience. No matter who I love, friends, lovers…no one will ever be that close to me. It blows my mind to think of connection that deep. There is a way that a child fits with the mother that fathers don’t get.  I can imagine it could create strange feelings.  The thing is for the dads, if they thought of hearing their own mother’s heartbeat maybe they would understand. That is so special.

I wish you were here to see my art in person.  What would you say about it?  Would we talk about all sorts of art and the museums we visited? Would you try to figure how I do it?  The thing is Mom, because of who you were, I am who I am.  You modeled for me the drive to follow the stirring inside.  Our stirrings were very different.  I didn’t appreciate it at the time.  You tried to guide me to be like you…it wasn’t until the end that you needed me to be me. That was an interesting lesson, one that shifted my parenting. You were a natural business woman, a force to be reckoned with, a leader, a skilled executive with the eagle eye for the big picture. I am a place holder, an artist, an advocate,  a nurturer and a pot stirrer. Some of these qualities overlap. You inspired many…and they would never know what an introverted person you were. Your downtime was diving into a novel, a story and allow the words to take you places.

You did go to some amazing places too…the Galapagos and swam with the sea lions…African safari…Russia and the Coup…China…Italy…Ireland with the Aunts, just to name a few. You loved to see the world.  Thank you for our trip to Mexico. You challenged yourself in climbing ruins that were very high and scary! You had an eye for beauty and were talented with a camera. I could glimpse parts of you through your photographs.

I wish you could see Brian as the amazing man he is. My heart is grateful for all those walks on the beach, the games of bocce and egg salad sandwiches.  We played a bunch of games and you never “let” me win or anyone else for that matter.  If I won, it was my winning.  That was something that I carried on with Brian too.  I wasn’t doing him any favors by cheating at chutes and ladders!  I can still see us sitting around your dining room table playing Loaded Questions with the boys.  Laughing so hard and the boys, as teenagers, seeing that side of their Nonnie. Oh the things you said…

You were a fierce debater and negotiator.  You held your point.  Brian has said to, me at time when I have been that fierce, “are you channeling Nonnie?” The greatest lesson you taught me was to keep going, no matter what.  I would say you handled living with cancer as elegantly as possible.  I was grateful for all of our time walking in the gardens at Duke after treatments. There are many things I am thankful for and this is not a walk down the difficult road of your treatments for pancreatic cancer or even your death.  This is about what the rearview mirror is showing me, years later, of what I have gleaned from knowing you, loving you and remembering you (even the tough stuff!).

Happy Mother’s Day Mom and Thanks!