My mother was thoughtful and kind and so beautiful people would stop what they were doing to look at her. But she wasn’t a snob about her looks, either — that was part of the beauty. And everyone wanted to be near her. Her friends and siblings and anyone who knew her talk about how special she was, even now. A pic of Jeanne comes up, you’re going to see a lot of deserved praise. And her dying too young also adds to how exquisitely her presence was wanted.
My mom was also terrified a lot of the time — she had what I would consider an invisible bear chasing her and sometimes she would fall because she was trying to move too fast. My dad blamed the slick soles of her jewel-toned suede loafers, but I always saw that bear, just out of sight to everyone except my mom.
I keep repeating that anxiety is a legacy I don’t want to repeat. I’ve written it in many places. I take the cute little bag of the aspects of her I want to keep and shoo away the things I don’t want from hopping in there. It all comes back to not really having control over anything. So I can shoo and carry, but what’s going to happen will. I’m her daughter, I’m me, trusting in the mystery can be so hard. Having control? Cute.
Look, floating out in the cosmos with no discernible means of control might go against all today's popular ideas about manifesting, etc. But I’m sick of that noise. And growing up in a household where controlling the world with your brain was the order of the day, I think it’s better for me to continue to learn to let go.
Anyway. Enough about all that. I’d like a pure moment about my mother. Mom, what would you like me to share about you? That I was kind. That I cared too much about the way I looked and in the end wished I hadn’t. That I was a good mom. That I made you grilled cheeses and cinnamon toast and open faced pot roast sandwiches happily. That I love you so so so much and that you’ll always be my baby. That when you did reiki training to honor me on the 10th anniversary of my death the women in your group cried because they felt how much I loved you, because we can still feel it. That feeling is real and will always be real. Just as real as the invisible bear, I ask? More real than that asshole. What a bird.
I love you, mom. I will always write about you. But you were too — there isn’t a right word — and all of your humanity and the love gleaming at you coloring you, too, and maybe I’ll get a few film frames right here or there and for a second get the light moving through the picture. Either way, like you did, I will always try to get it right.
As the nuns sing in The Sound of Music (which my mom so patiently tolerated again and again): “How do you catch a moonbeam in your hand?”
It's me, Jennifer Bernice (rhymes with "Furnace": it was my Granny's name) Sutkowski
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