Today marks the 22nd anniversary of my mother’s death. She was diagnosed with two unrelated cancers in the space of five years. Survived the first. Was killed by the second. I was 24, she 56, when she died. I have lived almost half my life without her.
My mother was remarkable in many ways. Her sense of wonder and probing intellect never failed. She had a wicked tongue, which at times made her a source of wit and humor and at times caused others much misery. She was confident that she was beautiful and had an appreciation of style, especially Modernism, that was unusual for her set in Fort Worth and then Dallas.
I’m typing this looking out a series of plate glass windows in a house Mark and I bought just this time last year. It’s a 20+-year-old “Deck House,” modular and modern, conceived in the spirit of Frank Lloyd Wright. My view: a salt marsh, full at high tide. The sky is a bland grey. The water the color of blue-green slate. I fell in love with this house when I walked in. Simply built. Geometrically angular. Put together to emphasize the view, the trees, the water. It’s my mother’s aesthetic as much as my own.
I sometimes wonder if she would have approved of my having a “vacation home.” When I was a girl, she would take me shopping. I was small for my age. Until I hit late adolescence, clothes didn’t fit well, and it was never easy finding things that didn’t hang, making me look like an underfed monkey. When we found a few things that fit, I would agonize…which to pick? Her answer was always the same: “Get them both! Enjoy! You look beautiful!” And I would agonize more, thinking that two was too much, that I didn’t need two. Maybe also that I didn’t deserve two. Sometimes we bought two. Often, I was too rigid to accept the gift.
Mom, since I know you’re reading this, I’m missing you today. I’m also celebrating the you that is in me, that made me appreciate the beauty of this place, that allowed me to splurge and have “two.”