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.