A few days ago, my sister and I took my daughter out to purchase the white dress that will serve as her graduation "gown". Her school does not get the gown and mortar board, the girls all wear white dresses. We had a great time, and Molly chattered and laughed. It was good.
Last night I took her for her prom gown. She tried on a bunch of dresses, looking terrific in all of them, grousing about non-existent body issues, and we did more giggling and gabbing. We ran into some of her friends at the second store. They were with their mom (I went to school with her...) shopping for dresses for a wedding. Soon Molly's bff Lisa showed up and the whole gang of us took over the dressing room while the girls modeled their choices. We wound up getting our hair done and giving Lisa a ride home.
I can't stop thinking about my mom now, Ja-Ja to our kids.
Our mom raised 5 kids alone. She didn't get any support, so she started a home business so she could keep the family together. In those days, the most prevalent recommendation was to "farm us out" or give us up to the state. As the late 60's approached, Mom was faced with raising 4 teenagers. The oldest daughter was married and out of the house. It was a hard life for Mom. I'm sure she was lonely and frightened much of the time, and it is hard for me to try and put myself in those shoes.
As time passed, she sold the business and took a 9-5 with the Commonwealth of PA. Her life got easier, and there were things like insurance and days off. We grew up--- or as her friend Mr. Malloy would say, "she drug us up". And so it was. She always told us that she raised her kids, so she wouldn't be babysitting for us. That was while we were young. At a certain point, the youngest of us was heading towards 30 and there weren't any grandbabies. Mom decided that perhaps she'd like some babies around - PLEASE!
Fast forward to Molly's long-awaited birth. I think I was pregnant with her for 6 or 7 years if you count all the trial and error of infertility. Mom went along with me for an ultrasound the day before Molly's birth was induced, and fell in love in that instant. She took care of Molly while Maryanne and I built the herb shop business. She took her everywhere... they'd get their hair done together, go visit Mimi (Mom's mom) and then stop at some posh restaurant (Molly loved candlelight). They'd go shopping or to dance lessons or whatever they felt like doing. She was so kind, loving, and generous with my daughter, saying she deserved to be spoiled. I know in my heart that for Mom, taking care of Molly was an opportunity to get it right and do all the things she'd wished she'd been able to do for us when we were kids.
Mom always told me that she wouldn't be here to see Molly graduate. I would just laugh and tell her she'd be at her wedding. How could there be a world without Mom? Of course she'd be there!
She was right, you know.
Mom died about 4 years ago. Somehow this month has already been more emotional than some that were very close to her death. I think about how proud she would have been. Molly has turned into a wonderful woman, filled with life, creativity, brilliance, personality and wit... all things that Ja-Ja gave to her. As the days march towards graduation and beyond, I won't forget everything she gave to Molly.
And as we approach Mothers Day, I just want to thank my mom one more time.