If happiness and sadness go together like day and night, then I am nearing dawn on this second anniversary of my mother’s death. My Mom, Ardelia “Dee” Schapiro, was the most kind and loving person I have known. Mom attracted others with her magnetic kindness. She greeted people with a hug that enveloped you and made you feel like you belonged. Mom was the shining beacon of life, showing me the way to go. At her funeral I said Mom was my home.
Without Mom, I take joy in the flowers I have planted in her honor, and all I have learned from her. I still wake up in the middle of the night at that time she always needed help, and I use that time to think of her and all the love she showed me. I cherish each memory, even the ones that others might consider less than happy. Mom knew me as well as any person can know another, and she was my teacher and guide.
Being loving did not mean Mom would let misbehavior slide. Mom did not have to yell to let you know of her displeasure, and her displeasure stung. If you were threatening, rude, unkind, or vulgar, she let you know and you had a choice to apologize and do better, or to go someplace else. If you did not treat someone she loved respectfully Mom didn’t care if it was my three-year old son, who she escorted to the door asking him to leave for not treating her daughter properly, or a muscle-bound group of large tough looking motor cycle riders, who received a sever tongue lashing for being rude to my Dad.
As a depression era child, Mom dropped out of high school to take care of younger brothers and sisters, and keep the house so both of her parents could work for the basic necessities. She got her GED in her thirties. Mom was observant, fair, non-judgmental, and the smartest person I have known about people and life. There was always room at the kitchen table for anyone who needed to talk about a problem. Those who came to my Mom were not only family, but our friends, neighbors, and others who found comfort in her kindness, and wisdom in her words.
Others I have talked to about grief tell me the second year is the hardest, and that is true in my experience. The first year I was very focused on following Mom’s last wish for me to “just be happy.” I found my feelings could still be hurt, and the expectations of others still left pain when I failed to meet them. How can I just be happy when I miss my Mom? Being hurt, or sad can not take away the happiness of having the honor of being raised and loved by my Mom.
Fortunately I carry so much of her wisdom and love within me, where it can never be lost, but I have it available to share.