As a daughter, there were always three sure things in my life. Death, taxes and the deep, passionate love my parents have always had for each other.
So it seems fitting that every year my parents’ May 11th wedding anniversary occurs near Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. Because from my perspective, they are who they are as individuals and parents, then and now, because of their love, their commitment, their devotion to, and their bond with each other, first and foremost. Although their marriage has not always been easy, their love transcended all circumstances and has always been the solid foundation of our family dynamic.
But this year, my mother stands alone. Life did the thing that it does so tragically and terribly, cancer taking my father’s life shortly after Father’s Day last year.
As if it couldn’t get any crueler, May 11th of this year would have been my parents 50th Anniversary, the celebration for which they had been discussing for years. I can’t even begin to convey how this makes me feel, but suffice it to say, don’t get me started.
Now that my mother is my only living parent, it brings a poignancy to this Mother’s Day that I could not have anticipated, particularly looking back on the last incredibly difficult 10 months and one week without my father.
As a daughter who has taken for granted the strength of my parents together, there was a very real question in my mind as to whether my mother would be able to live through such a loss and function again without my father. The bond shared by my parents was such that it seemed inconceivable to me that either of them could survive without the other.
I was gladly and thankfully very wrong.
Somewhere along the way I forgot all that my mother has accomplished in addition to being a mother of two daughters and wife of Antion. She has been a competitive ballroom dancer, model, actress, midwife, librarian, minister, author (of yoga and meditation books plus at one autobiography so far,) massage therapist, healer, yoga teacher, and tireless promoter of both her own career and my father’s. No doubt I left something off this list!
Somewhere along the way I lost sight of my mother’s inner strength, resilient spirit, rose-colored glasses optimism, and ability to endure. I forgot that I have seen her determination and it is fierce. So when my mother was confined to New Zealand in the last year due to circumstance, she more than survived. She adapted to life on her own in the middle of a pandemic. She endured a strict and lengthy lockdown which isolated her from her fledgling community she had barely begun to build. She deepened the friendships she had already formed. She found many forms of incredible support, not only from within New Zealand but all over the world. She has developed a life she could not have imagined, all on her own. And all this while in the deepest grief.
She would say she couldn’t have managed it without so much support. But I say her survival instinct had to come from within her first. We couldn’t have supported her without her willingness to accept it.
That is the measure of my mother.
To all mothers and to my mother, Happy Mother’s Day!
And to my dear mum, Happy 50th Anniversary. You are greatly loved, cherished, appreciated and embraced in this life and beyond.
Previously published on My Edmonds News