About Me

Thanks for being here! I am a mom of three (two girls, 15 and 13, and one boy, 9) and a teacher of many (thousands during my more than 17 years teaching high school English and Spanish in Philadelphia). Forever a student, I love learning - whether through talking to others, reading, watching movies and documentaries, or traveling. I also love running (slowly), hiking, and practicing yoga!

Friday, February 14, 2020

Valentine's Day Mom

My Valentines
I thought of my mom today, of how she used to give my sister and me candy hearts and a card on Valentine's Day, every year without fail. I thought of her as I perused the display of cards in Wegman's last night at ten along with many others, all of us deciding between the flowers, the chocolates, the candies, all of us tired but also there, and not at home in bed. In the end I decided on a small rainbow colored unicorn for my nine-year-old son, who still loves stuffed animals, but most likely not for much longer, a quality lip balm for my oldest daughter, who recently complained that I stole hers (I did, actually), and good chocolates for my middle daughter, who has a sweet tooth. I chose cards for the girls telling them how special they are. I decided to make my son a card, as I knew he would not care. Finally, I added a six-pack of San Pellegrino Aranciata drinks for each child to the cart, because it is their favorite. I spent twenty minutes walking around the store worrying that this gift was both too extravagant and would ruin my kids by spoiling them (a hug and "I love you!" is enough!) and that it was too little and would disappoint them by showing how little I cared (a six-pack of Aranciata? Really, mom?). Finally, I headed to the checkout, passing by a family friend who was buying groceries and flowers for his wife on the way. At home, I unloaded the car and waited for everyone to go to bed (that's late these days) so that I could set up their little Valentine's Day shrines. This morning, my son was thrilled with his rainbow unicorn, naming him Sprinkles and saying, "I should have made you something," as he hugged me tight. Two seconds later he was wondering why the girls got cards and he did not, but the appreciation was real for a moment (to be fair, his "card" was a piece of white paper folded in half with his name on it). It's a story, like so many stories, that I would have loved to be able to call my mom up to tell. I know she would have laughed.

When my mom first got sick, she said, "I hope you can eventually remember me before all this," and I didn't understand. But sure enough, during those first years of grief, the images of her suffering, of all the indignities she had to endure, were a repeating movie reel in my mind. Today, though, as I drove to work, I could see my mom setting out the candy hearts for me and my sister in the kitchen of our childhood. I could see all that she did for us. Candy hearts on Valentine's Day, Christmas presents under the tree, exasperated silence when I was being a brat during my teenage years. I can picture her clearly turning off my music on the radio in the car and insisting on silence, saying "My nerves can't take it," and I am perhaps as grateful for that memory now as I am for any thoughtful gift she gave us as I daily turn off the "Dude Perfect" YouTube videos that my son likes to watch.

As I drove this morning, I saw my mom in all the normal times, the before she was sick times, and I thought of something one of my mom's closest friends, a friend whose heart I know was breaking too, wrote to me after the funeral: "Your mom's great love is not gone. It is yours now, to share with your family and those you love. It is in you." She was right. I am grateful.