As Nevaeh grew sleepy in my arms, I lightly scratched her back. She stretched like a pretty kitten, just like I did when my mom scratched my back. I would crawl onto my mom's lap even at 18 years old, wriggling my shoulders to let her know what I requested. And she always complied. Those long fingernails of hers traced patterns on my back, scratched away the day's worries and stresses. She'd tap rhythms to whatever tune was playing in her head, and she'd barely audibly tick the tune out with her tongue on her teeth. I can still closed my eyes and remember those nights where it was just her and I, mother and daughter. No one can scratch my back like she could. She had told me when I was a baby, that's how she would put me to sleep. She'd run her fingernails lightly over my arms, my legs, my back. She'd trace my baby skin. No wonder I'm so addicted to it :-) I'm determined to do the same with Nevaeh.
Having those connections with my daughter is so important. Even if my mother was here, I'd want to experience that bond from the other end. Look down on my child and feel that overwhelming, unconditional, impossible love, as opposed to that unconditional, innocent love a child feels for her mother. I can cry just thinking about it. These past two years have been the hardest, and the most beautiful years of my life. I've grown so much, I almost can't believe how young I used to be. How young I still am. That saying "Age is just a number" rings so true to me. I feel aged, like a wine with wisdom yet so much life left to live. I'm in my prime.
It'll never be easy, living without my mother. Every time I come across a new parenting challenge, that tear in my heart aches, wondering what my Mom would have done. What if she was here, and I could pick up the phone and call her? "Mom, Nevaeh is teething bad and I don't know how to help her." She'd probably tell me to do the old whisky trick. I'd like to think I can guess what she'd say...but I hate not knowing. We hadn't reached the point in our relationship of parenting advice. We'd only made it through the funny stories of when I tried to pee out of my finger, because "That's how big brudder does it." Or the few times she cursed me, saying my children were going to be exactly like me; impossible and ornery. I know she held me ten days straight when I had RSV. I know she breastfed me, I think she cloth diapered me.
Either way, I supposed I'd still have my own way of parenting. It's not like I'd take her every word for gold, necessarily. It'd be nice to hear though.
I want to be the kind of mother she was, and I think that just requires one thing. Love. An undivided, unimaginable amount of love. I want my children to know they are my world, and I will do anything for them. I want to be their rock, the one they come to for anything. The one who guides them and has the biggest dreams for them. My mother is still very much a part of me. In the short nearly 20 years I had with her, she filled me with such love and compassion. I am a great and kind person, a lovely woman who smiles all the time, from the inside out. Because of her. She will always be a part of me, because I am a part of her. Just as my daughter is a part of me.
The past three August 7th's have been grieving ones. But
Until then, I'll scratch my daughter's back and live for her with love.
Patricia Jo Walter
December 18, 1958-August 7, 2009
Her Heart will live on