Twenty years ago I was half the age I am now and could drink and dance with my friends all night and still function normally at my parents’ traditional New Year’s Day smorgasbord. Ten years ago I partied like it was 1999, running through the snow from house to hot tub and back again, a brand-new engagement ring sparkling on my finger. This year I will spend the holidays going through my mother’s effects so the condo will be ready for resale from the beginning of January. We were going to go Christmas shopping together but she never answered the door. I let myself in and found her sitting in the living room, dressed and ready to go out. She died with a smile on her face on the 28th of November at the age of 80. Her funeral was yesterday.
I’ve barely slept since the end of November. I just want my mom. I don’t care that some other woman gave birth to me: Maureen Thompson was my real mom. She might have been older than most of my friends’ moms, but she had a way about her that made every day special. She would race me to get to the fresh snow in the early winter and to the beach in the summer. She took night classes to brush up her writing skills before embarking upon her first local history, to ensure that the stories were told well and what could have been a dry recitation of facts became colourful and lively under her pen. She loved fun for fun’s sake and was our family’s unbeaten Pac-Man champion. Maybe to an outsider, Mom wasn’t tidy, she wasn’t organized, but then you didn’t know her, didn’t know how she could keep track of a dozen things at once without losing her cool. And I hated her for not being around like my friends’ moms, because she and Dad had the restaurant to run, for being the mom they turned to for advice over a Coke before we opened for the dinner crowd. We clashed almost non-stop through my teens and then I reached my twenties and discovered how much she’d grown up. We were friends, but she was always my mother, and I knew there were things I’d done which upset her, things of which she disapproved, but she has let me make my own mistakes without pushing me to do what she would have done. And now that I’m old enough to really appreciate her, she’s gone.
I can’t wait for Christmas to be over. I just don’t feel much like celebrating anything.Claire