My mother Hyacinth lived a good life. It was not nearly as long as I wanted it to be, but it was good. She loved her family, her neighbors, and her friends. She served faithfully in her church and was a beloved Grandma to many, including those she shared no blood relation to. Her life was a simple one without much luxury, except perhaps, the luxury of being loved by all.
When she died, apart from the growing hole in my heart, I had one pervading thought: as a mother, there was nothing more I could ask of her.
It is difficult to endure the loss of your mother without thinking of your own parenting journey. Especially when that journey is already complicated by loss. Am I doing enough? Will my kids love me the way I loved her? Will they miss me the way I miss her now? And of course, when all is said and done, will they also say that there was nothing more they could ask of me?
I am not yet the kind of woman my mother was. Hers was a life rooted in deep faith that belied the hardships of her life. She had an easy grace and was quick to forgive. I know this because I tested her patience countless times as a youngster. She loved God and because of that, she loved people. And people loved her right back. I often told her that I never got her social graces or ease with people. I have always found people to be difficult to understand. She would laugh and say that it wasn’t our job to understand people but to love them. And speaking for her friends, neighbors, and anyone who knew her, there was nothing more they could ask of her.
Parenting without your mom seems like an unfair ask.
So much of how I raise my own children was rooted in not only how she raised me, but how she helped me navigate being a rainbow parent. I would not have survived my miscarriages, pregnancy after loss, or parenting after loss without being able to call her up and ask her advice. I know that the next few years without her will be hard, but I will keep her gentle advice close to me because when it came to teaching me how to love my children, there was nothing more I could ask of her.
I spent the last few days trying to remember the one thing about my mother that hurt or angered me. I still cannot find it. I know intellectually that she was not perfect but at the end of it all, none of that mattered. Maybe we had big fights or maybe I got too busy to call her on some days but the only things I can easily recall are those last few months spent with her. Telling her I loved her and she said it back. As she got weaker, she lost the ability to speak, so she would grab my hand and squeeze it, saying I love you and reassuring me that she was still my Mama.
Even at her very end, there was nothing more I could ask of her.
My children must now grow up without their Grandma Hyacinth and I am so sorry for that. She loved them entirely and there was nothing she wouldn’t do for them. My children and I have spoken a lot about death. The loss of their siblings, both their grandfathers, and now their beloved Grandma. This is a different kind of grief for my family but I have a unique opportunity to learn one last important lesson from my mother. One day we will all die and the big things we do may or may not be remembered but how we make our children feel will remain long after we are gone. I have no desire to be a perfect parent. I don’t even know what that would look like. All I want is for my children to say my mother was a little bit crazy but there was nothing more we could ask of her.
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