Tuesday, July 13, 2010

I miss my mom tonight; or what Amelia Earhart didn't know.

Last Sunday was the six week anniversary of my mother's death. It's odd how one gets upset without quite knowing why. Sunday, the day of rest, and of course in my house rest right now means rest for a certain someone who is recuperating from surgery. Not a happy rest, but still, what choice does he have? Leg raised, waiting. Today we go for the cast. Then more waiting and more impatience, imposed immobilization. As for me, I don't rest. I try to keep busy. Editing. Writing an essay. Swimming. Walking. Talking. Trying not to think.

But sometimes you can't help it. I've lost my biggest fan. That's what my mother was. My father was always critical and demanding. My mother was often needy and mercurial. But in the end she was the one who loved me most. She saw who I was, and it pleased her. So I pose the question, what did Amelia do it for? Was it for the glory? Was it for the fun of it? Was it for the joy that she felt when she was at the controls? What prompted her to test herself again and again and again? I posit she did it because she had no other choice, because this was her. This was who she was, a person who demanded the most of herself, and stretched herself to the limit doing it.

Her mother was many things, I get a sense that she was demanding and quite possibly difficult but she also put her daughter into bloomers. My own mother dressed me in a tomboy outfit of my choosing, corduroy overalls and Dunham hiking boots. I wore pigtails and made quite the picture. I was allowed to be what I wanted to be, even though sometimes she drew back and resented it. Because in the end that was enough, she loved me for who I was, loved me even more when I refused to comply with what she quite possibly knew were impossible demands. I wonder if Amelia's mother felt the same way, wanting but knowing that she shouldn't want, because what is more precious to us as parents than our children's ability to be independent, to truly do what they want to do even though it hurts us not to see them or talk with them as much as we may want. In the end what parents want most if they love you, is to raise an independent and confident child.

That was Amelia, that's what her mother got. Heartache, heartbreak but also pride, they shaped each other. . . as my mother shaped me.

Or as I said at the memorial service, if my mother only drank, I'd raise a glass to her. Today, and every day of my life. I miss you mom.


  1. I thought about responding to your rhetorical question about why Amelia did it by delving deeper into the pleasures and satisfactions of flying, but really, I don't want to flatten the pleasure by over-analyzing it. It's all the things you listed, and the only point I want to add is that flying answers to the human drive for self-determination. Amelia wasn't content to be a passenger on life's journey.

  2. Which is all to the good for the rest of us. So well put.