My Goodbye Letter To You


Dear Mama,

I have felt so cheated that I never got to say goodbye and tell you everything I needed to say before you left this earth. I’m not even sure how that’s possible, but I’m sure saying something is better than the nothing I was able to say. So here goes…

I am so sorry for all of the times that I hurt you with my words and my actions. I hope that somehow you are given a window into my life to see that your words and example reached the core of my being. I may have fought you at every turn, but that was hopefully because I was being molded by you. Clay is always hard when you start working with it. I want you to know how I cherish all of my memories of growing up with traditions. I know how hard you worked to make sure we had special memories even when we didn’t have many resources. I have carried on many of those same traditions with my own children. Your silly spirit and ability to laugh and have fun is something that has changed the way I parent our chronically ill daughter…we approach everything with some jokes. Our nightly talks, unwrapping our days and helping each other solve the world’s problems taught me how to talk to my kids. I valued that time with you so much but I don’t know if you ever knew. I just thought it would always be there. I thought you would always be there. Like when you always wanted to teach me how to sew…I really wanted to learn, but I thought there would be time when I was older and I wasn’t busy having fun. I was wrong. Your surprise drop-in visits at my college apartment…bringing goodies to me and all of my friends, seemed like such an intrusion sometimes (even though my friends adored it). I’d give ANYTHING for one of those visits now. Our multiple phone conversations every day…and the running joke that after the last one, you’d still call right back because you forgot to tell me something. “Just one more thing”, you’d always say and all of my friends would laugh. What I wouldn’t give for that little annoyance today. I have so much to tell you! So many things you’ve missed that I know you really wanted to be there for. There have also been some really dark days when I just needed you. I never told you how much it meant to me that you would let me cry while you held me and let me trace the lines in your hand. You didn’t try to fix anything until I was ready, and then the world better watch out because mama bear had some solutions for me. I never told you how much it meant to me that you always had my back and believed me; you never doubted me or questioned my integrity. Now as a mother myself, I wish I could tell you how thankful I am for the example you provided in being a strong mother. You didn’t push everything on dad, we didn’t want to mess with you. I never wanted to disappoint you. You were tough but also loving. I wish you could have known the impact you had on so many other kids’ lives besides your own kids. Our friends, the kids at church, the kids at the Job Corps…you were so loved. You had no idea how much. I didn’t tell you enough how beautiful I thought you were. I was young and had my own insecurities; I had no idea or perspective on aging yet. I should have been telling you all the time how great your skin looked, and how beautiful your hair was styled. When you were down on yourself, I should have been better about shutting down your negative voice and lifting you up. I hope you see that this is who I strive to be now. You were one of the most honest people I have ever met. I always admired that about you. I hope my kids say the same thing about me someday. You also taught me to be a friend to the friendless and because of that lesson, I have made some of the best friends of my life. My kids walk into a room and that is the first thing that plays in their brain (if they know what’s good for them). When people think of my family, I want them to immediately associate our name with a sense of belonging…”Oh them? Yeah, I know them, they’re like my family”, is music to my ears. I got that from you. You wanted that in our home. You always wanted a home like that. I’m just sorry that you aren’t here to enjoy my family because you would love them. You would see each and every one of them for the unique soul that they are, and you would just adore them. I finally found the one my soul longs for, and you couldn’t have picked a better husband for me. You would have him doing projects for you all the time.

When I think of what it would be like to have you in my life now, the possibilities break my heart. Today would’ve been a fabulous day to hit Half Priced Books, get a pedicure and some lunch. You would love taking walks in the nature preserve, or swimming in our pool. The internet would blow your mind! Don’t even get me started on how you’d react to my craft room that he built for me…

Thank you for teaching me more than you realize. Thank you for loving me without question. Thank you for always being there…even when I didn’t seem like I wanted you to be. Thank you for pouring into me for 20 years the tools and lessons I needed to build a fabulous life. Thank you for caring if I was a truly good person. Thank you for showing me how to be compassionate. Thank you for teaching me how to laugh and dance in the rain. Thank you for teaching me that being a pretty lady really has very little to do with outward appearance if the inner package is rotten…you know lipstick and a pig and all. Thank you for taking me to church; to build a relationship, not for show.

I had no way of knowing this at 20 years old, even if I would have had the opportunity to tell you. A life lived without you, has given me this perspective, so I’m telling you now. I miss you every day. I love you more today than I ever have because I’ve seen life through your eyes now. I just wanted to tell you that you were a great mom, and I hope that you think you did a great job too. I hope that I’ve made you proud. Happy Birthday Mama, I love you!

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