My mother passed away in June, 2001, after a long battle with lung cancer. She started feeling symptoms - pneumonia and the like - back when I was in high school, in the early 90's, but fought the good fight for about ten years before being taken from us at the age of 62. When she passed away, in the presence of me and of my father, her husband of just over 42 years.
My mother was an extraordinary woman. She finished a year of college, but dropped out to work and support her husband, whom she married at the age of 19. She worked while he finished school, then gave birth to four boys (she did, not him). She raised us with the help of her father & stepmother, who moved to Florida in the late 70's. While my father travelled on the road three days per week, she raised us by herself. Tough broad, because we four boys were more than a handful - all of us smart, stubborn, and creative. A dangerous combination, truly.
Mom got involved with local politics in our town fairly quickly, once they moved in the house in 1968 - incidentally, going into labor on the day of the move. My father still claims that she did it to avoid moving stuff. Anyway, long story short, she was the first councilwoman elected in West Caldwell, NJ, in 1979. This broke a hundred-year tradition of men-only councils, also ending the post-election celebration at Frank's Chicken House, a local jiggly joint. Growing up, I never thought it odd that my mom's picture was in the newspaper every week, nor was it odd that my mother was taking meetings with most of the Republican politicians in the state of New Jersey.
Don't boo and hiss that she was a Republican, because she - and my father - are old school conservative. That is, the government's job is defense and to take care of those that legitimately can't take care of themselves. Among Mom's accomplishments include a re-opening and expansion of the West Essex Vocational School, and the opening of NJ Transit bus lines from Newark to West Caldwell, to allow people greater access to suburban jobs. She gave hundreds - maybe even thousands - of people the ability to care for themselves and their families, at a relatively low cost to the taxpayers. Game, Set, Match... Mom.
Through it all, she remained the strongest-willed woman that I've ever met (no offense, honey). Her ability to deal with people was uncanny, and she had That Glow that those special people get. Her presence in a room caused everybody to notice her, and her character was enough to keep their attention. She was emotional, and passionate, and more stubborn that I could dream of being. I admired her greatly, and she is still my standard for judging women.
99.9% fall short.
I miss my mother. I wish that she was here to help me, to talk me down from the ledge when I need it. I wish that she had met The Boy, because she would have fallen deeply in love with him. I know that she would have been an amazing help with The Boy's treatments, and she would have busted heads in Philadelphia far beyond anything that we accomplished.
Plus, the hard-cord extreme wrestling fan in me would have LOVED to have seen my mother-in-law and my mother butt heads. Not that they would have over anything important, but it would be the classic Immovable Object vs. the Irresistible Force.
Happy Mother's Day, Mom. I miss you.