My mom is my hero. She wasn't just my mom; she was my best friend and confidant. When I was pregnant and alone overseas I would wake up in the middle of the night; unable to get back to sleep, I would watch a movie. Usually, it was a Disney movie. I remember one night watching 'Dumbo.' As always, it pulled at my heartstrings; but on this particular night it overwhelmed me with an intense need to be near my mom. I called home, in tears, and my sweet mom asked (in a slightly frantic voice), "What is it?! What happened?!" When I explained that I had been watching 'Dumbo' and they had just sang 'Baby o' Mine' she laughed and told me that she was always with me, and just to go back to sleep and she would be there in my dreams. She always made me feel close to her; even if she was thousands of miles away.
I wanted to be just like her. I cannot think of a time when I was young, that I felt like I didn't have everything in the world. As an adult, I know that we were poor. But she never let me feel that way. She worked two jobs and put herself through nursing school after my nieces came to live with us, in order to give us all a better life.
We always had quality time together. She would make sure that we did things as a family every weekend - picnics, trips to the mountain and zoo, swimming, an occasional movie, ballet - if I wanted to participate in something she did her best to make it happen. There were those occasions that she was just unable to come up with the money to make it happen, but I cannot remember being terribly hurt because she always made up for it in love and affection.
As an adult I learned a lot about my mom. I knew she had had a hard childhood. She grew up in an orphanage in Ohio during the early part of the 20th century. The matrons of the orphanage were cruel - think 'Little Orphan Annie' times 100; but my mom had her brothers and together they overcame the many trials dealt to them at a young age. After leaving the orphanage, my mom met my dad just in time for WWII. Soon he was off to Europe, and her brothers left for each of the other conflicts. My mom told me stories of these times and occasionally a single tear escaped her eye only to be quickly waved away with a little laugh of disdain. She never wanted me to see her cry. It was as if she never wanted me to see her as weak or hurt by the hand life had dealt her. As a result, I saw her as strong and infallible. I wanted to be just like her. She had something else in mind for me. She always wanted me to be aloof. Carefree. She would tell me that I had plenty of time to be old; she wanted me to have fun and made sure I had plenty of opportunity to do so.
After I had my son, I wanted to be just like my mom. To give him everything I had growing up. I wanted him to have her. But life had something else in mind for us. My mom got sick when my son was two. Even then, she was strong; she would not leave this world until she was sure that we would be ok. She had had a massive stroke and to the amazement of all her doctors, she recovered though significantly weakened and unable to speak. She had all her mental capacities, but it was hard for her to be dependent. She hated it; and the worse thing was that she would often find herself with tears uncontrollably streaming from her eyes. There were three more strokes to follow; each of them weakening her body, but not her spirit. When her body finally gave in, she knew she was dying. The last time I saw her she told me, the best she could, that she didn't have much time left; and asked me if my son and I would be ok. I told her to stop. I said that she would be ok. Within a week, she had slipped into a coma and died.
These days, when I find myself feeling alone, or something (like a Disney movie) makes me overwhelmingly sad. I cannot pick up the phone to call her. But she knows when I need her all the same. She tells me I have to be strong now. That I have the best of her in me, and that no matter what she is with me... all I have to do is close my eyes, and she will be there in my dreams....
Submitted by Anonymous
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