During the last two months, I’ve gone to the phone dozens of times, only to stare at it blankly. Then, the familiar squeeze around my heart region and I remember: Mom is no longer here. And lately, while I’m out walking, these words spring from the recesses of my mind: “Sometimes I feel like a motherless child.” It’s a song, I think.
Rather silly that a gal of a certain age considers herself a motherless child, wouldn’t you agree? In reality, I should be grateful that Mom had been part of my life for so long — longer, in fact, than I will be alive. That is, unless scientists come up with the secret of living past 100.
Mom was an original. She proved that age was no barrier and, at 92, she remained youthful (maybe this was due to the mega-supply of anti-aging stuff we discovered). She stayed interested, interesting and independent until she succumbed to her illness.
Mom’s smile could light up a room, she loved fashion (a gene I inherited) and her manners were usually impeccable. But was she proper? Not always. Mom had a feisty spirit and was a force to be reckoned with. I’m gonna miss that; maybe I already do.
I miss the spirited political discussions. If I failed to catch the news of the day, I’d call Mom. She knew exactly what was going on and gave you her biased take — in detail. I would joke that she could replace CNN’s news anchor Anderson Cooper. “Well, yes,” she’d say. “Anderson had better watch out!”
Mom was my biggest fan or, perhaps, she was just being a mom. I found a large folder containing everything I’d ever written: articles, short stories, poems (albeit lousy ones). One essay, titled “The Nervous Angel,” dated back to the eighth grade.
Mom always called me “Celia” and, depending on the situation, her tone conveyed love, exasperation, anger or laughter. She also called me rebellious, bossy and “Señora Comandante.” Her endearments cracked me up. “Mom,” I’d say, “It’s in the DNA!”
I don’t miss driving to New Jersey, being tethered to my cell phone or feeling my heart hiccup in fear when one of my siblings called. Consequently, we prefaced our conversations with, “Mom’s OK.”
Frank and I can just pick up and go, save for work obligations. During her illness, everything revolved around Mom. Plans were made, broken and made again.
And nowadays, I’m wearing red nail polish. Mom thought that red polish looked tacky (yup, she had her opinions about nail polish, too). Along with being rebellious, I suppose I’m a bit of a coward. I don’t think that red polish is tacky; however, I did listen to her — sometimes. Besides, it was easier; I learned early on to choose my battles.
I don’t feel particularly depressed, but my normally high spirits have taken a nosedive. I suppose I’m in a funk. As one friend put it, “Ceil, moms are special and when they die, we feel orphaned.” Maybe so.
My priest told me that Mom is safe. Not only do I respect and believe him, my faith assures me that this is true. However, I still cannot quite wrap my head around the fact that she is no longer in this world.
I’m no stranger to losing a loved one to death: My first husband, my dad and a dear friend, all passed from this world much too soon. And when someone we love passes into the next world, we mark that passing by closing a chapter on our lives.
Here I am, a gal of a certain age, starting a brand-new chapter. As I look at my shiny red nails, I think it’s a good start. Funny; if I listen with my heart, I can almost hear Mom say, “Celia, you were always my rebellious one. But, never mind, go ahead and live your life — red nails and all.”
Ms. Iannelli is a resident of Jamesport.