Sunday, May 26, 2013

In Memory of My Mother

We said our final goodbye to my mom on the 16th. She'd been in memory care for 2 years and her passing was not unexpected. My sister and I were both astounded that she held on for as long as she did, but if you knew my mom, you'd say, of course she did! She was a feisty one, stubborn and smart.

I didn't have the go-shopping relationship that some women have with their moms. She would way rather go out in search of an interesting rock than shop for shoes. English was her second language, but you'd never know it (well, except for her prepositions and accent) because she loved the dictionary and would whip it out to track down the origin of a word (and its meaning). Playing Scrabble was fun to her. Shopping? That was torture.

I loved my mom, but she was never the friend some women have in their mom. I often felt that I was simply her worker bee, and believe me, there was always work to be done. I could look back on things and be resentful, but I refuse to do that. I instead choose to appreciate her quirky uniqueness, and, most importantly, her intentions. I choose to look at the good. Being a worker bee taught me the value of a hard task completed. Being a worker bee gave me persistence. Being a worker bee made me appreciate.

I often attribute my successful writing career to learning the value of hard work and persistence from my parents. The things that seemed rough and unfair when I was in my childhood and twenties equipped me with tools that have served me well through the years that have followed. It's like a Craftsman toolbox. You know, the kind with the shelf you can lift out? And on the top shelf gets stored the small stuff. The damaged stuff. The easy-to-get-to stuff. The stuff you can't quite throw out, even though there's no way to repair it.

Every parent gives their child a shelf like that. Some put more broken stuff in it than others, even though no parent sets out to put anything in it at all. The trick is, that shelf lifts out. And it's our job to pick it up, put it aside, and then dig down into the main compartment and use the good tools that they also gave us to construct our own adult lives.

If you never get past the top shelf, you waste the joys available to you in life.

So in memory of my mother--Sybrichje Marie Agneta van der Meijden Van Draanen-- I will appreciate the love and tools she gave me, and say goodbye to the broken stuff.

The stuff she never meant to put there in the first place.


Kylie said...

I am sorry for your loss. You mom sounds a lot like my grandpa in the aspect of her being a feisty one, stubborn and smart. We were all astounded that my grandpa held on as long as he did.

What you said about her giving you stuff she never meant to give really well said. I can see my mothers and my relationship in parts of it.

From what you have said your mothers sounds like an amazing person.


Mary Hershey said...

Oh, Wendelin--

I am so sorry to hear about your mom. What a very real, and very powerful tribute. Thank you for sharing this with us. Your toolbox metaphor will stay with me.

Gentle hugs,
Mary Hershey

Kylie said...

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Marjorie said...

What a wonderful way to remember your mom. As you know, it's a mothers job to give tour children the tools they need to get through life. Sometimes, the "broken" stuff is left behind to remind us/them that some things just can't be fixed but we love them anyway. Keep your "top shelf" and pull out something every once in a while and remember the lesson you learned from it and then pass it on. There is a wonderful book titled "Tinkers" by Paul Harding that goes more into depth about your "toolbox" metaphor. A story about a son and father and the lessons learned through a toolbox. It won a Pulitzer Prize.
Blessings to you and your family
We love you

KT said...

I am really sorry to hear about your mom. This was a beautiful tribute

Jessica said...

I'm so sorry for your loss. What a beautiful, real tribute and example of love -- because love is caring for someone as they are, faults and all, and not pretending to overlook the faults, or holding them to an impossible standard.

My parents aren't perfect. Nobody is -- and I definitely wasn't a perfect daughter! But I know they did the best they could. I come from a large family, and while I had to pay my own way and do without some stuff others had, I never felt deprived. And I was much more ready for full adulthood after working my way through college carefully managing my budget so I could afford living expenses. These were very valuable tools my parents put in my toolbox, that I didn't have to pay for on my own when the price was steeper.

I'm still learning to let go of the broken tools -- but even those have their purpose, if you can view them without anger or resentment. Thanks for the beautiful analogy. And again, my condolences to you and your family.

Sharon said...

Wendelin, that was stunning. A loving and honest tribute and one that speaks volumes to everyone (I love the imagery). Much love to you and yours,


Isabel said...

Wendelin, your mom will always be a role model to all who read this blog, especially this part. Well I know she's my role model now. My mom probably won;t leave without a fight, either.
Man, your mom must've been so proud of you, with all the goals you set and finished! I don't know, i feel so bad acting like it's the past...I don't want to feel like she's gone.
Thank you for opening your heart to us, it's beautiful to hear about such an awesome, and strong mother.
My sympathy is with you, also the hope of much more to come.

Gabrielle said...

I'm so sorry about your mom. This was a great post.


Lori Huntley said...

Moms are the best! I hope the memories you have of your mother will help the hurt.