I’ve come to have a deeper understanding and appreciation for my mom’s strength and resilience in the months since my dad’s passing. I’ve always known that Anne is an incredibly strong woman, but it is showing up in even richer ways now. She is the first to acknowledge that she relied heavily on my dad; being in a wheelchair definitely forces a dependence of some degree, and though it went against the grain, she grew to rely on my dad more and more for help with everyday life. With his help gone, she’s had to master another type of strength–asking for help from others. Fortunately, she has a big network of friends to ask, and all are more than willing to help. It’s been a matter of accepting that help with grace, which she does very well. On New Year’s Day, she prepared a gourmet meal for neighbors who have looked in on her since July, thanking them for their care and love.
But one of my favorite stories is how she invited a friend’s 10-year-old to spend the day with her during the holiday break. The context for this story is that it was Anne’s first Christmas spent alone in her entire life, and it hit her hard. She had gone to visit my dad’s gravesite on Christmas Eve and came away feeling raw and broken. She didn’t stay down for long, though. Her incredible resilience pulled her through. Anne has always been a baker, and has shared her love of that craft with all her grandchildren (all boys, no matter!) Her friend’s daughter had never baked before so my mom was driven to rectify that situation. And they didn’t start with something simple like chocolate chip cookies–oh, no. It was an Italian Creme Cake made from scratch, with lots of butter and eggs, and crushed nuts. requiring true labor and focus. My mom was in her glory and it brings tears to my eyes to imagine that scene where she is giving so much of herself, yet nurturing her own soul in that simple gift of teaching a child to bake.
People say I’m a strong woman, and I believe I am. I’ve made some hard decisions, especially in the last few months, but it has never been clearer to me that I get that strength from my mom. She has been my quiet role model all my life. Fortunata, once again!