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Mom's 'fault' not a bad thing at all

May 10, 2013 - Paul Giannamore
My mom kind of got the short shrift in the grief and memory department of my brain for awhile.

Not her fault.

Oh, I grieved enough after her death in September 2004 that her loss was part of my need to take a mental health month off about six months later. She had not been in the best of health and really had been something other than herself because of not feeling well for the last year or two of her life. She got a bit grouchy, in other words.

When my dad died three years later, his loss simply took over. I miss him terribly, daily, even nearly six years later. Sometimes, I thought I wasn’t missing my mom enough.

But lately, Mom has been filling my memory banks with the kinds of recollections that make me smile, feel warm and smart and needed, as only a mom can do.

I learned to cook pretty well, so my family tells me, under her guidance in the little kitchen of that tidy mid-century ranch house in the West End. It was tidy because it was her full-time job, to which she was absolutely dedicated without complaint. I also learned how to argue politics, find faith in God even in the worst situations, develop an appreciation that I never will, be able to grow flowers the way she did. I became a reader and a worrier and someone who manages to empathize even when it’s convenient not to.

This is the ninth Mother’s Day that I have no mother to thank in person for life, liberty, the pursuit of dreams and the fostering of whatever talent God may have given this one of Della’s kids.

Too many people talk about being driven by their abusive, alcoholic, angry, inattentive moms who fed sibling rivalries and bad habits. None of that happened here.

When I have a bad day, it’s because I choose to, not because she didn’t buy me something 45 years ago or because she took a tough stance when I wanted to be coddled. Coddling isn’t always the answer, and she molded three pretty productive members of society

Whenever anything was “wrong” in Mom’s perception about one of us kids, Mom would say, “That’s not my fault.” Even if genetics had an obvious role. For instance, upon realizing that my skinny big feet with the twisted toes look a lot like hers writ large, she said, “Don’t blame me for the foot trouble you’re going to have one day.”

It is her “fault” that I no matter how I try, my tomato sauce tastes a little wrong unless I absolutely follow only what she taught me. It’s her “fault’ I like cooking and prefer it to fixing mechanical devices.

It is her “fault” that I get a certain satisfaction out of getting my point across by pulling my kids’ chains every once in awhile, grin included. (Think J.R. Ewing of “Dallas” or Ponch on “CHiPS, both of whom made her smile that smile all the more.)

It’s her “fault” that Christmas is full of great memories, and that I still need my brother and sister when there are plenty of people who never speak to their siblings.

It is her “fault” that I recognize that staying married for decades is a choice and sometimes it’s work, but it’s got rewards that can only be defined amidst the comfortable relationship of man and wife. I saw that in her and Dad.

Well, Mom, thanks for the good stuff for which I find “fault” with you today. I realize in a world of lousy moms just how lucky I was to walk in the kitchen every day after school, lift the lid on whatever was cooking on the stove and hear from the other end of the house, “Get your fingers out of that dinner!”

If I have any regrets about my relationship with my mom, it’s that I didn’t write this on Mother’s Day of 2004, when she still would have been able to read it.


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