Five years ago today (October 14, 2009), I wrote the following post. It’s as true today as it was then … perhaps even more so. As my dear friend Catherine Leggett observed, “Death doesn’t end a relationship. The conservation continues; it’s just that it’s a little one sided.” Every day I look into the mirror and my mother looks back and there’s not a day that goes by that I am not in constant touch with the woman who was . . . is my touchstone.
Martha Nell Hardy
Four years ago today my spectacular mother, Martha Nell Hardy, died. I was with her when she passed away, for which I am profoundly grateful. She was unconscious; she had been for several days. Perhaps she didn’t know I was there. I hope she did, but I can’t be sure.
We are not a religious family and I have come full circle from ridiculous Roman Catholic convert steeped in studies of doctrinal development (my graduate school experience) to avowed and crusty pantheist, by which I mean that I revere creation, but do not put any credence whatsoever in the existence of some single entity that invented and now micromanages the universe according to some cosmic game plan. Sorry, guys, but no. So I don’t think she has gone to Heaven. I think she has gone to me. She probably has gone to other people as well, undoubtedly my brother Peter, but I can’t speak of their experience. I can only speak of mine.
In the years following her death, I have become more and more like her. I especially notice this with my children, with whom I increasingly interact in much the same way she did. And I am grateful for this, because I think I wasn’t a very good mother before, so maybe she’s helped me make up for some of the bad years.
Then there’s knitting. I’ve always knitted, but now I knit maniacally. And the way I’m going, I might even challenge her record for dying with the most yarn and, let me tell you, hers was an AWESOME record.
I’ve also taken the torch from her as regards politics. She read several papers daily, listened to liberal commentators on TV and ranted with a vehemence and clarity that I now see in myself. As readers will know from previous blogs, I listen to political podcasts all day long and am more than willing to speak my mind, loudly, and for a very long time, indeed, perhaps ad nauseum — you be the judge. Had she lived, I would have gotten her hooked on podcasts, which she would have enjoyed more than newspapers because she could knit and inform her opinions at the same time.
Some might say that it was inevitable that I become like my mother over time, not some voodoo mystery transformational experience wherein her spirit, upon leaving her body, flowed into mine. She was, after all, my mother and provided me with both nurture and nature. But no. I think her spirit, upon leaving her body, did flow into mine, for which I am very, very grateful. It means I don’t have to miss her so much, because, guess what? She’s right here. And because I loved her so much, it means I like me more.
Mom, I love you. Thank you for being my mother.