Home > Uncategorized > Some words, when none of them are right

Some words, when none of them are right


My mother was the kind of person everyone talked to, spilled their secrets to, without her really trying. She’d be in the checkout line at the grocery store and the woman behind her would start spilling her guts. She’d talk to a stranger 20 minutes on the phone and come away with half their life story. It was always kind of spooky and definitely kind of hilarious.

She was, among other things, an excellent listener. Nothing you told her would ever reach anyone else’s ears, and she would always offer a mixture of compassion and straight talk. She might tell you that you’re an idiot, but she’d make sure you knew she loved you. Some of us more than others. (It’s me. I’m Some of Us.) We often butted heads, but even when she was high holy mad at me, I knew she’d drop everything even just to listen. And for those of you privy to my chatty weirdness, I can talk. A lot. The certainty there was something I always knew to be true and hopefully appreciated enough. Looking back, it’s hard to know for sure.

I can’t say that she taught me how to listen. I’ve always been a good listener, a safe space. But she did show me how to be completely present in a moment. She has this way of knowing when you had something to talk about, even when you weren’t quite sure you wanted to talk about it–especially when you were trying to keep something important in. Then, she’d nudge it out of you, sometimes prying it out of you with whatever Mom crowbar she had at her disposal. (It’s me. I’m You.) But even if you weren’t her daughter, she always listened in an unhurried manner, as if the only important thing in the world were the words coming out of your mouth and what you were feeling. Truly listening and hearing someone is a gift that not everyone gets. So many people have a conversation simply waiting to respond or get their point across.

That’s always something I’ve aspired to be to and for the people I care about: unhurried, available, and present. Because I know it’s easy to get wrapped in a day or feel like you’ve gotten left behind–or, perhaps worst of all, worry that what’s on your mind is unimportant.

Nothing that matters to you is unimportant to me. This is how I was raised, and this is how I am. You can thank my mother for that.

She was also a human jukebox, who would dance and sing to any song, no matter where you were. I used to roll my eyes at her, perpetually a teenager at heart, but now I do it too. So, I guess the joke’s on me. Sometimes, we are more like our parents than we’d like to admit, certainly never within their hearing. Because the HORROR.

Mom loved Halloween, which is absolutely the shit. If it were possible for adults to trick or treat, I literally would. (I am occasionally a small child at heart, and I regret NOTHING.) Instead, any chance to dress up in some ridiculous costume is one that I seize wholeheartedly, no hesitation. When I was born, I spent months in the hospital. My nurse dressed me up as Tinker Bell, while she was Peter Pan. The first three years of my life, after that, my mom dressed me as Tinker Bell for Halloween, and I remember that sparkly green dress and the particular disappointment of growing out of it. But I was certainly one of the fey folk from the very beginning.

I could sit here and tell you a million stories, although some are better served in person. Possibly over coffee and definitely with homemade crumbcake or box of Entenmann’s. Instead, I’ll leave you with this: she was a woman who once bought three volumes of a relatively difficult-to-find lit journal, so I could finish my research paper properly. She loathed a lot of my decisions in life and often marveled at my ridiculous nature, but she was also an excellent partner in crime (figurative crimes! We were not, sadly, Ocean’s 8). When faced with something far left of the middle, she once told me: “I know you. You will always find a way.” And I believed her. And so, I believed in me. When she was around, you had no choice but to believe in yourself the way she did, which was completely.

If you think I’m strong, I am probably faking it—but also I learned how to be stronger than I think I am, from her. I wonder what she’d think of my life, right now, but then I know what she’d say: “I know you. You will always find a way.”

Thanks for the reminder, momma.

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. Sarah Jean
    May 13, 2020 at 9:26 am

    What a lovely tribute to your mother. It sounds like she was a lot like mine.

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