Monday, March 30, 2009

Mary


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.

6 comments:

Jenn said...

BEAUTIFUL, Mom, oh, so beautiful.

Birchsprite said...

This is a wonderful tribute and a lovely memorial.

You should trace her story and put it up here for posterity...

A beautiful way of tracking ephemeral lives.

slouching mom said...

I love, so much, your respect for history, for your progenitors.

Lovely.

zeke said...

Of course she does live on, though. Every time you remember her, or tell your grand-daughters about her, of look at her photos, or write about her, she lives on. And now she lives with us, too, and we can rememebr her with you.

What a fitting and beautiful rememberance. Thank you for sharing it with us.

Swistle said...

Those are some of the best last words I have EVER HEARD.

Also, I love how as a child she looks so serious, and as soon as she hits her older years she goes all mischiefy.

Anonymous said...

ELAINE, I READ THE COMMENTERY ON YOUR MOTHER AND I HAVE TO SAY WITH TRUEFULNESS SHE WAS A GOOD AND KIND PERSON, OH BUY THE WAY I THINK OF AUNT MARY EVERY NIGHT , THE REASON I SAY THAT I SLEEP WITH THE QULIT SHE KNITTED AND IT IS VERY WARM. JOHN HER NEPHEW