I used to sleep walk to her. At three; crawling into her bed and nestling next to her pregnant belly. At seven; standing at the foot of her bed in a state of sleepy confusion, murmuring nonsensical gibberish in a dreamy daze, you’re sleeping baby, go back to bed. She is the saint who placed a warm compress wash rag to my burning forehead, set a cold 7Up for my upset stomach on my bedside table, a steaming hot bowl of soup to comfort. She’s the one who pulled the covers up to my chin, brushed my hair behind my ear. She would kiss my cheek.
I used to fight with her. At twelve; protesting the endless lists of chores, the 7am Saturday wake ups, the Sunday Mass dictates of lady like dresses. At sixteen; adorned with heavy black eyeliner, unkempt hair, and a rebellious nature, I fought the parameters of societal norms. She fought to keep me safely within the gated yard. Through spinning storms of tears and cries, pushes and punishments, we fought. When the dust would settle, she would knock on my bedroom door. She would hug me. Cup my face with her hands and assure me with earnest, glossy eyes, You know I love you, right? I love you so much. And she would kiss my cheek.
I used to accompany her to her favorite spot. At five, after half day Kindergarten; picking up double scoops of Daiquiri Ice and Mint Chocolate Chip. At ten; dropping by Java after Mass for her Decaf Coffee and our iced cookies. At sixteen; Talking to Rita and Tez at Baskin Robbins while we waited for our Cappuccino Blasts. At eighteen and on; At Starbucks, where she finally settled down and met the love of her life, “Mr. Right”: Sir Decaf Cinnamon Dolce Latte with soy and easy ice.
I laugh with her. Driving with her and getting so enthralled in our jam packed conversations, chatting people-politics-faith-purpose, we end up enroute to Wisconsin, after missing the 294 exit from Oakbrook. Walking with her around Lake Katherine, “Mr. Right,” in hand, watching the kids and Uncle Ryan scare the Geese and search for turtles. We laugh while Jeff Bridge’s, Big Lebowski doppelganger gave us the 411 on chicken farming, and after while plucking chicken feathers out of each other’s hair at Pearl Valley Eggs farm on the 19th Ward community outing.
I look for her. Like the sleepy, scared three year old that nestled into her bed, I cry to her when my heart is aching. Like the woman who lifted her blankets comfortingly allowing me to snuggle my way in, she opens her arms, offers her shoulder, and holds my head while I weep.
She is the Matriarch of Six.
A Forever, Fierce Supporter.
The Christian Song Singer. The One Foot Stomp Dancer.
The Queen of Campbell. The Titan of Teen Club. The Lake Katherine Swan Whisperer.
The Nana Sugar Giver. The Beautiful Wife Committer. The Lovely Listener. The Open Armed Heartfelt Empathizer.
She is my Mom