She reached out to me this week, from beyond the grave. I made an impromptu trip to visit my sister because I was starting to feel a tad claustrophobic at my house, and truth be known, lonely. I needed a little bit of that special love one can only really get from being with their family. While at my sister's, the two of us shared our time by going through boxes of old family photos. The boxes we went through contained images of long gone souls; souls we'd grown up knowing only in family tales. As history detectives, we identified our kin. This experience was incredibly eye opening, and it touched my soul.
My sister opened an old scrapbook one night. She perused it's pages, as I was identifying loose photos. The next day, I peeked inside that scrapbook and was treated to a world of personal stories.
My grandmother, Theresa, went through a period of loss, not unlike others in her time. She had a baby (my Aunt Carol) in July of 1939. Carol didn't see her first birthday because she contracted Tuberculosis. My grandmother would test positive or TB the remainder of her life. My grandmother was able to get pregnant again, and this baby would grow to be my mother, Patricia, the first of five more babies to enter the family Simonetto. My mom was a few months old, when my grandmother's brother, Patrick, died. He was just 21 years old. He had been at college, but came home for a visit, when he died suddenly of Pneumonia. In the next year, my grandparents would lose yet another family member: my grandfather's youngest brother, Joeseppe. He was 20 years old, and died in an air training accident at the Air Force base in Kansas (McConnell AF Base, before it was named as such). So much loss of youth. How did the families handle it? That is a rhetorical question, I know they were survivors. They persevered. As I continued to leaf through the pages of the scrapbook, old letters, notes written by unknown-to-me relatives, came alive. I was mesmerized. I was held captive.
One letter gripped my heart more than the rest. It was one penned by my own mother. It certainly wasn't the oldest letter. The paper hadn't turned yellow yet with age. There, before my eyes, was my mom's handwriting, on blue, flowered stationary. I read the letter out loud to my sister. As I did, tears slowly streamed down my cheeks. My mom was expressing sentiments that I have been recently feeling. Mom wrote a letter to Grandma, near Mother's Day in 1989. Below are the unedited words my mother had to say:
My Grandmother, before children.
I have a picture of my grandfather at this time, too,
so I do suspect they were married in this photo.
|Lake Michigan in the foreground, and my |
grandmother with my mom on her right and my Uncle Joe on the left.
|My mom and Grandma|
|Mom and Grandma,|
on my mom's First Holy Communion
My mom and my Grandma at my sister's wedding
I suppose you're wondering why I'm writing this letter since we live only ten miles apart and talk on the phone almost every day. I don't feel I could express myself verbally as well as I could by writing. Since Mother's Day will soon be here and I've been shopping for that special gift, I've been thinking about you and what you've meant to me through the years.
As I think back now, I guess I really didn't appreciate you as much as I could of while I was at home. It wasn't until I went to California that I began to get a new perspective on our relationship. We didn't always agree on everything, of course
but you always took time to listen whenever I had a problem that I wanted to talk about. After I left home, I missed not being able to confide in you except long distance, by mail or by telephone.
|My mom, the bride - March 1962|
I think it was when I married Larry that I really began to think of you as a real person rather than as "Just Mom." I began to admire your abilities with cooking, getting everything on the table hot at the same time, sewing which I took for granted, gardening and how crafty you are. Your ability to make something out of nothing amazed me. I also discovered that you were generous and always ready to help out a friend, neighbor and me.
You know, you've given me good sound advice over the years and I haven't always taken it. But I especially remember the morning of my wedding when you and Dad said, it wasn't too late to change my mind about marrying Larry" - your only concern was my happiness and I've often thought of that special moment. After Lisa was born, I began to see what it meant to be a mother from a new point of
view. I felt a very special closeness with you as I understood, for the first time, the joys of having a child, of seeing her smile, hearing her say, "mama" and watching her learn to walk and grow up. Each child has given me more insight to who you really were. I had a hard time with three and you managed fine all by yourself.
Holding and rocking a sick child, I've also discovered the long hours of worry and work you put into caring for me. I found then, as you did years before, that a mother learns to rely on God a great deal.
As the kids have grown I found that I could sound grouchy and irritable just as you sometimes sounded when I was growing up and for some of the same good reasons.
I remember how you use to complain about how sloppy and messy I was. I really
didn't care much about your frustrations then, but I now know exactly how you felt - Sorry.
You've always been there when I needed you the most. I remember the morning Larry died - you were there to help me when I didn't know what I was going to do - you held me in your arms and I felt so safe and secure. What magic your arms possess.
|My Uncle Joe, Aunt Pam, Grandma and mom -|
There were still two babies yet to join the family.
|At Disney World, with my siblings and my mom|
emotions. Yes, I understand now that mother's don't always know how to settle siblings quarrels fairly or may even run out of patience a lot of times. But, moms never run out of love - I know because you've shown that through the years.
With all my love,
Happy Mother's Day
*****Did she know?
I believe she did. With age comes wisdom, and mother's definitely have wisdom along with their endless supply of love.
Thank you mom, for being there for me. May you look down and know I embrace all you bestowed upon me in life. I am who I am, because of you and dad. I love you, as every daughter, and son, loves their mom. Sometimes we just need a little time before we truly realize the awesome souls in our lives.
Wonder. Wisdom. Grace. Power.
story teller, mother, lover of life