Posted by: jude49 | May 11, 2014

The Day My Mom Cried

Dear Readers,

My mother was not given to displays of emotion.  Hugs, kisses, words of encouragement were rare.  For some of my life, I wondered if she even loved me! But then there was graduation day… We had arrived early at the Marriott Center where I was to receive my degree, and I was delighted to realize that my parents would be able to clearly see me when I would be hooded.  I remember the moment well.  As the hooding took place, my father winked at me, and I smiled back at him.

After the ceremony, I found my parents waiting for me on the lawn.  Since my father is emotional, the first words out of my mouth were, “Okay, dad, how much did you cry?”  To my surprise, he told me that he didn’t cry, but my mom did!  I turned to her in amazement.  “You cried, mom.”  My mother straightened up, looked away and replied, “Well, you could have finished your doctorate faster!”

My mom didn’t have an opportunity to finish her schooling.  She was the eldest girl of ten children during the Depression.  My grandfather had a good job, but he spent much of it on drink.  There was constant stress.  At age 16, my mom quit school and starting working.  I think she was relieved to be out of the house, away from the strain and tension.  She never went back home.

When I was writing my dissertation, I asked my mom to come over to my home and listen to me read part of my dissertation.  I thought she would reply with one of her self-deprecating remarks, but she didn’t.  She came and listened intently.  I remember how pleased I was with her interest.

I came to realize that my mom was brilliant.  Although she couldn’t articulate what she knew at times, she was intuitively knowledgeable.  She just “knew” what to do and how to do it.  She was a keen life-long learner.  The radio was her constant companion and source of information.  It was by listening to the radio that she learned about panic attack disorder which I had suffered from all my life.  By giving me that information, I was able to start the journey which eventually led to a diagnosis and treatment that would make my life so much more independent.

I believe she cried at my graduation for a few reasons.  She always wanted to return to school, but never felt she was smart enough. But she did want her daughters educated.  I remember in my early teenage years, I was soaking my feet in epsom salts.  She took that opportunity to tell me (and pretty sharply, as I remember), to tell me I better get a good education so I wouldn’t have to take a low-paying job and stand on my feet all day.  I never forgot her advice.

To see me, her daughter, receive a doctorate was both a fulfillment of her dreams for herself and for me.  I thank her for her foresight, intelligence, devotion and love.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.

love, Judith




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