Monday, March 30, 2009
My mom was born in Greenfield, Massachusetts. Greenfield is less than an hour away from where I, my daughter and granddaughters now live. I find this quite amazing considering that all our family stories are set in Philadelphia.
Just why Mom was born in New England remains a family mystery. Philadelphia was where she and her folks set down roots, where I was to grow up. Perhaps my granddad (who became a steel worker) was cheap immigrant labor on a railroad project. Driving from western Massachusetts to Philadelphia is an effort even now, six hours by car. How the heck did my grandparents make the trip up here in the middle of winter, a century ago?
They are all gone, long gone. The mystery will not be solved unless Jenn and I do some serious genealogical research in the state archives. We plan to one day.
One hundred candles would have adorned her birthday cake today. Many live to that age now. She was not destined to do so. We lost her too soon, too fast. A doctor would tell me, after emergency open-heart surgery, that she was "in God's hands". We had her with us ten more heroic days but her damaged heart could not recover. In the end, she squeezed my hand and whispered, "Be good. I want to go to sleep now." She had earned her rest.
The family caregiver. The big sister. The loyal wife. The loving mother. Serious child (Sophie again). A flapper, a flirt. Funny (I hear her now in my daughter's laugh). An immigrant's child who scrubbed the marble steps of wealthy families. A laundress. Beautiful, in many ways. Her smile was radiant. Her patience and kindness, steady and admirable.
She was born just over those nearby mountains. I'd like to think she's found her way back just to be close to us. I'd like to think that smile is still shining down on the great-granddaughters she never got to know and on that one granddaughter whom she adored.
Happy Birthday, Mom. We miss you.