Monday, December 23, 2013

Dear Mamasay: 23 Is Really The Magic Number

"Yes, it is. It's the magic number." ~ De La Soul

Happy Birthday, Mamasay. Today you would have been 62. And I know you wouldn't have believed it. You always said you still pictured yourself at 23. That was your magic year. A year when everything fell into place. When you told me that, I liked imagining you at 23. Running around town with Dad. Living in the Marina when it still felt authentically San Francisco. Having dinner at Gram's house on Jersey Street. The golden light streaming into her living room. Hershey's Kisses in the crystal bowl.

You were born on the 23rd of December. And you died on the 23rd of February. Some kind of magic.

It's been almost 5 years now. And I've been managing, Mom. I've been a mom for almost 5 years and I've done it without calling you every day. Well, I guess that's not true. There were the days when I screamed toward the sky, begging for your help. I didn't think I could do it. But I did. And I'm proud of myself. Not every day. But I'm prouder than I have been.

I've really felt your absence in the past few months. As I research schools for Quincy, I want your input. Your wisdom as both a mom and a teacher. If you were here, I know you'd be reviewing schools right along with me. You'd talk to your teacher friends. You'd visit schools with me. You'd help me in finding the best place to support Q's needs. His sensory issues would be familiar to you. We'd remember my strange sensitivities as a child and how you couldn't understand what was going on. But now there's a name for those sort of struggles. You'd want him to get all the help he needs so he can thrive. But ultimately you'd understand that it's up to me and Toby and what feels right for our family.

You would have been an amazing grandmother. I have no doubt. You'd keep Poppa in check with the treats. You'd dote on them but you'd know that you were also helping to mold them. Your sense of humor and warmth would bring smiles to their faces on every visit. I always admired the way you treated kids with respect. You never talked down to them. And you made each of your students, your nieces and nephews, family friends, and me and Danielle feel so important. Q and Z would have benefited from that, too.

As I'm making these big decisions in life and trying to be the mom my kids need, I often think, what would you do? How would my mom handle this? If only I had your patience. I'm working on it, but it's tough. Now I believe if I follow my gut, if I trust my instincts, you probably would make the same choice. You're guiding me in that way. Your energy is with me. I know it is. Thank you, Mom.

Happy Birthday. Your 23 is part of me.