When I was told that Mom had passed, the only thoughts that ran through my mind were my memories of her and decided to share five stories that I feel encompass the kind of person my mother was.
Memory #1: My mother suspended me from school
I had a mean streak as a child and my classmates knew how to push my buttons. One occasion found Mom, the principal, a classmate, and me in the office discussing what to do with me. Acting as the mediator, Mom asked the classmate how I should be punished; with a sneer, she said that I should be suspended. With a grin, my Mom said, “Fine.
Aaron will be suspended from school tomorrow and while you sit in class all day, we’re going to go out and have fun.”
Not only did my mother play by her own rules in deciding to suspend me, but she snidely told off a ten year-old while doing so.
Memory #2: All kids believed they were the favorite
When we were all still young, our pediatrician asked each of the four kids who Mom’s favorite child was. The result: 4 of the 4 thought they were the favorite. The doctor met with Mom in his office and said that she had to be doing something right. Somehow, she managed to treat everyone of us so individually that we believed we were singled out as being more favored than the others. Each of us was special to her and nurtured in the way that Mom saw fit because she saw us as four individuals with different personalities that all needed something different.
Memory #3: 39th Birthday
In a typical Mom decision, she and Dad held a birthday bash of epic proportions for their 39th birthdays. I had the chance to sit down and watch footage from the party and at the time, it could have matched any of the parties on My Super Sweet Sixteen. There was a long list of performers and everybody had a great time, especially Mom. She never stopped and was dancing all night with every one of the hundreds of friends and family members who came. If you factor in the planning and the post-party buzz, she must have been working purely on adrenaline for a full year. Day-in and day-out. She left it all out on the table and made sure to leave her mark.
Memory #4: Mitch
In 1996, Mom’s long-time friend, Mitch, died on her birthday. After telling us of his passing, I felt obliged to force myself to cry. Mom immediately called me out, though, and told us that while we are sad that he would no longer be with us, he would always live on in our hearts and we can feel relief that his pain had stopped. With momentum in hand, she continued her rant and told us that we take each day to remember him and smile as we recall the good memories of him. This lesson has stuck with me and after experiencing many losses that are inevitable with a large family, her words have conditioned me to remember her with a smile, even when I am overcome with the grief of her loss.
Memory #5: Mother-Son Dance
It’s been ten months since I married Stephanie; at the time, Mom was undergoing chemo treatment and still managed to have enough energy to not only dance in the hora, but also in the Mother-Son dance. Elton John’s “Your Song” was fitting as she had always sung it for us as children. Also fitting was the fact that she decided that she had to lead. With a smile on her face and tongue sticking out, she directed me around the dance floor. Mom, as always, was in control and made sure I knew it.
I find it fitting that this is the last big event I had the privilege of spending with her. It is this memory that I will hold closest and it will always remind me of what made her so special; she was exuberant, energetic, sassy, and most of all, loving. And while she won’t be there to lead me around anymore, she has provided me with everything I would need to anticipate where she would steer me; it is in this way that she will remain with me forever.