My New Year started off with a phone call from my brother that our mom was found in her bed unresponsive. Within two hours she passed away after being taken by ambulance to the hospital. This was totally unexpected. She tested positive for COVID five days earlier but was asymptomatic.
I’m going through shock, denial, disbelief and grief all at once.
I wrote this story about her years ago. I sent it to children’s book publishers and actually got an offer from a small publisher. I turned down the offer because I didn’t think it was big enough! I’ve never had another offer in my life to have a book published.
Here’s the story:
A DIFFERENT KIND OF MOTHER
I have a different kind of mother. She’s not like other mothers on our street. She looks like other mothers. But it’s what she does that’s different.
She sings all the time. She sings songs by men named Wagner and Wolf. But she calls them “VAHgner” and “VOUlf.”
When my friends come over they ask “What is that?”
We listen. “La la la la la la la la laaaa.”
I shrug my shoulders and say, “That’s my mom.”
My friends laugh. Their mothers never sing unless it’s to the radio.
My mom sings all the time. She sings operas while she drives, cooks, shops, gardens, reads and cleans. I think she sings in her dreams.
My mother never buys a loaf of bread. She bakes it every week and slices it with a big knife. Sometimes she lets me punch down the dough after it rises.
When I take my lunch to school, my sandwich sits crooked and looks like it’s ready to fall. My mother packs me carrot sticks, a hard boiled egg, an orange and an apple. There’s too much food and not one chip or pretzel like the other kids get. I like to order hot lunch.
My mother thinks hunting through the woods for mushrooms is fun. She took classes to learn about mushrooms so she knows which are good to eat and which ones are poisonous. I hate it when she asks my friends to go picking with her. But they love to go tramping through the dense green forest, climbing over fallen logs covered with moss. She points out the faerie rings where the mushrooms grow.
My mother grows vegetables in her garden, she won’t buy them at the store. But does she grow peas and carrots like the other mothers on our street? No. She’s proud of her eggplant, asparagus, spaghetti squash and rhubarb.
When my friends come over to play, my mother asks them to weed the garden.
“Nobody wants to weed. We want to play,” I tell her.
Then I turn around and the kids are lined up on both sides of her, pulling weeds as she tells them about the vitamins in vegetables.
My mother doesn’t read ordinary books by popular authors. She likes to read e.e. cummings with letters scattered over the page. I don’t know what the poems say. But my mother gathers up the letters and makes sense out of them.
Digging for clams up to her elbows in mud is how my mother catches dinner. She knows about razor clams that we dig in the surf and butter clams, littlenecks and cockles we find in the gritty gravel. She calls the ones we break with our shovels “clums.”
She picks oysters off the beach, shucks the top shell of and eats them raw right then and there. She eats the roe out of sea urchins and said, “It tastes like caviar!”
She’s the friendliest person on the street. She bakes wild blackberry pies for elderly neighbors and talks tomatoes with anyone who will listen.
She invites the neighborhood kids in, even if I don’t want her to. She doesn’t care when kids build a fort in our backyard or makes tents in the living room with old sheets. She lets us draw chalk pictures on the driveway and dig for China in the backyard.
At night when she tucks me in, I listen to her sing a lullaby with her beautiful voice.
When she kisses me good night, I love that my mother is a different kind of mother.
I’m so sorry, Elizabeth! I’ll be praying for you in the days and weeks ahead. Your mom sounds like one in a million and a real blessing to you and your family. I’m sure she passed a lot of that unique mystique to you and your kids.
She was 90 but we weren’t ready for her passing. Thank you.
So sorry! Thinking of you and your family at this time sending love and thiughts
Oh my, what a shock! I can’t tell you how sorry I am EA. Your entire family is in my thoughts.
So sorry for your loss
Lighting a candle for you, your mother, your family. Even when we know it is coming, it’s painful. My mother is 83, she goes through phases of talking about passing, because her parents passed in their 80s. So, we know it is there, but we will never want or be ready for it. Sending prayers and hugs your way.
Mom was 90 but it was still unexpected. Thank you.
I’m so sorry for your loss. It was so sudden and that’s even more painful to come to terms with. Lots of love and hugs
I’m so grateful for my visit with her in November. Yes the suddenness makes it harder. Thank you.
My heartfelt condolences EA. It was very fortunate that you visited her recently.
I can look back on that visit with gratitude 🙏🏼
Wow. I feel for you, Elizabeth. I wasn’t ready for my mom to go last year either. Sending hugs to you and your family.
Your mom had Covid too, right? Thank you for the hugs.
Yes she did. She refused treatment but I don’t know if she really understood what was going on.
My mom had no symptoms and the staff of the nursing home was checking on her many times a day. She seemed to be fine until she wasn’t.
I’m so sorry – it must be so difficult especially with it being so unexpected. Wishing you and your family all the peace and strength. Take care.
I appreciate your kind words.
Oh my….my eyes are leaking. My heart goes out to you and your family for strength and comfort. I love your story and she sounds like an amazing woman and mom. Perhaps you could resubmit the story now and get another offer. I’m so very sorry for your loss. 💜
Thank you for your kind words and sympathy.
Elizabeth, I’m so sorry. Your mother sounded like a beautiful human being. I’d love to have a book about her in my personal library. I’m sending you so much love.
Thank you! I appreciate your kind words.
This is sad. I am so sorry you started the year this way. I am thankful your mom is in God’s hands though. Now, let him give peace to you and your family.
Thank you. She’s definitely in a better place and she died peacefully.
I just read this. E. A. I’m a little in shock myself reading it. What a beautiful, beautiful tribute to your mom. I have a feeling I will be in your shoes in the not too distant future. Dad has been failing the past few months (he’s 90) Hugs from a fellow blogger. DM
Thank you! Yes, both my parents are 90 (divorced) but mom was falling daily. My dad has fallen only a few times so far. Thank you for your kind words about my story.
This is such a wonderful story about your mom. She sounds inspirational as well as so loving. I’m very sorry for your loss.
Thank you. She was a very loving mom. At times I didn’t appreciate her growing up. But as we get older I realize how very special she was.
What a powerful story EA! What an amazing woman. How did she get your friends to weed? The way you described it, I can see that in my head. I would be cringing and then shocked to see them on the ground. I’m so sorry for your loss. Sending caring thoughts your way.
Thank you. She was inspirational and the neighborhood kids all wanted to hang out in yard or house. I think many of the moms didn’t allow the kids to help out and get dirty. Maybe that’s why they’d weed?
What a great mom. I’m totally on board with the faerie rings, oysters and garden. Sorry no roe. It must have been a great experience growning up. My mom sat around watching her shows and smoking.
I definitely would take my childhood over yours. You’ve described my grand parents exactly.
Funny, your mom reminds me of my grandmother
Oh no, I’m so sorry Elizabeth! I didn’t realize this happened. What a beautiful story about your precious, unique, lovely mom! 💕C
Thank you. I don’t know if it’s harder if it’s unexpected — but it came out of the blue. I got reports that she was doing fine with Covid and then she died. This week with my kids has been a blessing.
Beautiful tribute to your beautiful mother. She was one of a kind. Her smile was genuine. Loved her.
Thank you ❤️
A beautiful photo and a wonderful story, thank you so much for sharing it, I hope it does become a storybook that children can discover. I’m sorry for your loss and touched by your appreciative words.
Thank you so much for your kind words.