Love And Support
June 4, 2014
Even though you’ve been gone for eight years now, I still appreciate you every day. Here are but a few of the reasons why:
You never tried to shape me into being a “mini-me” or somebody I wasn’t. You loved and supported me exactly as I was.
The birthday and Christmas gifts you gave me when I was little—the baseball mitt I still have, a mosaic kit of a peacock, tennis racket, powder blue leather jacket, etc., were what I wanted, not what you wanted me to have.
Every year on my birthday, you baked my favorite cake even though it was a way-over-the-top concoction: chocolate cake with chocolate frosting covered in chocolate nonpareils. In the summer you made my favorite pie – mocha cream – alongside your favorites – fresh peach and Gravenstein apple.
When the laundromat shrunk my favorite sweatshirt one year, you dampened it and tried to “block” it back to its former size. I could tell how disappointed you were when it didn’t work. I felt bad for being upset about it when you were so tired from work.
You knew I loved the color blue so you bought me pedal pushers, dotted-Swiss dresses, pullover sweaters, dresses for my dolls, and a Schwinn bike all in various shades of blue. You never tried to talk me into another color.
You even found me a powder blue transistor radio for my 14th birthday in 1965. (I still can’t imagine a better birthday gift than that.)
You didn’t shame me when I got pregnant at 17. Instead you turned your focus towards layettes (even though I didn’t know what they were at the time), warm booties, soft books, and on being a loving, attentive grandmother to your first grandchild. Of course you also nudged me to find a job, which I did, to support myself.
Each year on Christmas Day, years after I’d grown and left home, you’d greet me at the front door wearing the gaudy holiday brooch I’d bought you at the dime store when I was about nine or ten.
But all of these pale in comparison to what I appreciate most about you. It has to do with Dad.
Even though you discovered Dad’s revealing photos in 1957, and even though he was unfaithful to you throughout your 64-year marriage, you never tried to turn me away from him.
Even after Dad came out to me in 1975, when I’d sit for hours out on the back deck listening to his stories about the life he wished society had allowed him to have–the one without you in it–you never spoke ill of him to me. Instead you spoke of what good a father he was to the four of us kids, about how much he’d done for us, especially when we were babies. Other fathers you knew weren’t like that, you said.
You said you wanted your children to have a father since you never had one. He left the family when you were only four.
“He had brown shiny shoes,” you said. “It’s the only memory I have of my father. He never said goodbye.”
I did have a father, a loving one for 57 years. It had to do with the kind of person Dad was. But it also had to do with you.
For 55 years, I had a loving mother.
Your grateful daughter,