It wasn’t until I stood up at my mom’s service to speak, something I was not planning on doing, by the way, that I realized something.
It took ten years for my mother to pass as she had predicted, she followed in her mother’s footsteps – exactly. Ten years of misunderstandings, of bitterness, of laughs, of love, of drinking.
It was after the slow death occurred that family from around the country came. It was the confrontation of the past that allowed memories to form and connect that the realization came, that the writer found a home.
You see, through no fault of the humanity called family it occurred to me that my mother gave me the greatest gift of all time.
As I listened to the eulogy given my brother, followed by a speech from my stepfather and then a reading of my mom’s poetry by my sister, that I felt I should speak. After all I was the oldest child. I should say something right?
It was not what I wanted to do, it was not something I had prepared to do.
While public speaking does not bother me, it is something I have to prepare or outline, at least in my head. I can write gangbusters and spin tales like nobody’s business, but speaking eloquently on the spur of the moment is not my forte.
As I stood there and all words fled my mind, leaving my tongue and throat dry, I wondered what made me stand, why did I walk to the front of the room to look at all these people.
I frowned briefly before explaining that my mom and I never talked much, especially while growing up. I left out the part of her changing from a happy and fairly social person to one that harbored resentment and anger at the slightest misstep due to her celebrating daily in champagne. I told how I had issues talking to people, for asking for help. I struggled with finding the correct words at the right time.
I started writing things down and left them on the corner of my bureau before leaving for school. It wasn’t like I was asking for an answer or trying to take the chicken way out, so I was surprised when I returned home to find that someone had left an answer.
It may not have been proper way, but I was spurred on by a response. It became a daily habit after that. I would write something, leave it in the morning and by late afternoon a reply would follow my words.
They weren’t always complaints or great thoughts of wisdom, but they were words of encouragement and advice. It gave me the time I needed to formulate my thoughts and express myself eloquently when I lacked the quickness of mind to find the right words in the heat of the moment.
The letters went on for months and it taught me to write…it taught me to be creative.
One of my few regrets is not having the maturity of knowing I should have kept those written conversations. Those precious mementos of childhood, of a mother-daughter connection.
In the end my mom gave me the greatest gift: she created a writer.