My Mother

Aunt Rita, left, and my mother Ali, eighteen months younger than her sister.

I’m grateful for my mother. I may not have said that here often, but it’s been true all along. She would have been ninety-four today. I wouldn’t be here without her, on so many levels. The obvious one. And when I bought this land, she pitched in the last five percent that I didn’t have. And all those years between. I could write a whole book about how grateful I am to my mother for her love, protection, and support. Not that it wasn’t fraught sometimes in the early years, but by and large she was my best friend for all of our life together, and she called me her night rainbow, though I don’t remember why.

Rita and Ali on a double date in the 1940s.
Mom and the Colonel on their wedding day, with her mother holding baby cousin Bruce. And the Colonel clearly teasing the baby with a glass of sherry. Or perhaps Dubonnet, which was fashionable at the time.
My mother at fifty, drinking Scotch on a riverbank with friends in the mountains of western Virginia. I cherish this picture of her in a moment of joyful levity. I have another one of her with a similar expression, as one of my baby corn snakes coils across her face. I’m grateful that she let me know that she learned from me as my life opened new adventures for her.
And here she sits on another rock, with Dia the calico, at the canyon rim on her first visit to my new home in the early nineties. When I took this picture, she would have been just about the age that I am now. That’s a mind-bender. I believe she’s drinking Scotch in this picture too.

The gifts she gave me are immeasurable. I’ve written about them before. But even though she’s always in my heart and I think of her almost every day, I don’t really think about her in the way that I’ve been doing today. She was a talented artist, had a wonderful tact, a great sense of humor, and a tender open heart; and she could be fierce, vindictive and petty. At the end, her true strength manifested in dignity and astonishing courage. As I look for and at these images of her, I find myself chuckling at some memories, of things she said and trips we took, and tearing up at others. I suppose I’ve never really gotten past the grief of her dying. I’m so grateful I was able to be with her during her last eight months, her last days, her last breath. It was one of those difficult experiences that nonetheless brings genuine happiness because it’s so clearly the right thing to do. I wouldn’t trade that time for anything.

7 thoughts on “My Mother

  1. I enjoyed thinking about your mom as you d did here. She was always sweet and kind to me and my family. I recall my mom liked her a lot. I learned to love her as I learned to love you.

  2. What a beautiful tribute to your mother very loving, very real. I loved reading it and learning more about her and you. The photos are wonderful. Thank you for sharing it.

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