My mother passed away at the end of 2018 — she had just turned 90. In my head, I can still see her, hear her voice, and most of all, at times revive our time together as if I were still immersed in it. Some days all it takes is to close my eyes for a few seconds and I am projected into my childhood home: The feelings and the memories are so vivid that I can see every detail around me and almost smell that distinctive and unique home scent. The loss of a parent, particularly a mother, is always a life-changing event, despite one’s age and beliefs.
Very often, teenagers criticize their parents, their choices, their habits and want to distance themselves from their way of life: This is almost physiological. What they do not know is that one day they will grow up and feel closer and closer to them; one day, they will probably understand their parents’ perspectives, fears, and even their mistakes. In some cases, they will even make the same errors that they wanted to avoid.
I used to criticize my mum for not being very cheerful, for not laughing, and not surrounding herself with friends. I disliked our empty house, especially after my dad died when I was only 13 years old. I would always feel disappointed when my many attempts to make her laugh failed. I was too young and immature to understand two facts: firstly, that she had her own subtle sense of humor and secondly, that she hadn’t always been rigid — that is what wounds often do to people.
My relationship with my mum wasn’t always a walk in the park and we went from an almost symbiotic connection to a more mature rapport, after being apart and going through a rough patch. She was a strong woman: genuine, opinionated and brave. At times, she was so straightforward with people that, being younger and timider, I would feel embarrassed. My mother (and my father, earlier on in life) taught me two of the most important qualities a person can have: honesty and dignity. Mum used to call me “my little soldier” and would always encourage me not to give up — she never did.
Young people sometimes think they know it all and believe that their parents’ values and teachings are out-dated. I can still remember how, during my younger and rebellious years, frustrated and disappointed by my first hurdles, I expressed my anger to my mum for teaching me that I should never lie. Little did I know that this was one of the most crucial and essential principles in life. Soon after, I learned that being true to myself and others, and holding on to who I am and my values are some of the hardest things to put in place, and these are called integrity.
Becoming an adult for many also means to look at oneself in the mirror and see more and more of one’s parents, and I don’t mean only physically. All of a sudden, one recognizes a gesture, a word, even a thought: little pieces of their mothers and fathers linked together in the puzzle of who they are. So, in my silences, in my daydreaming, in my reflections, I remember and observe instants of my past that will never come back, yet they became embedded in me without me noticing them before.
I am taking with me the independence my mother bestowed upon me and helped me achieve. She supported my choices, including my decision to migrate far away from her, and worked hard in order to provide me with economic stability that made me able to fly with my own wings. I can still hear her voice telling me that I should always have a job and take care of myself, regardless of whom I’d meet during my journey.
Now, every time I think of my mother, I am grateful that I was able to share so much with her. I can see through both her great qualities and shortcomings; I can see through her being human and not only my parent. I am glad she is not suffering any longer and sure that she is now in a much better place. Having said this, sometimes I would love to see her again, to touch her soft skin, to hold her hand, and share one of our favorite moments in the day: our morning coffee, the one thing that would always bring a smile to her face.