70 Years For My Mother
Years ago, I heard a friend of mine say, “Humility isn’t thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking less about yourself.”
She was right. Her name was Mary. She was in her mid-seventies. I heard her say this more than 20 years ago. As I set these words down today, I am one day shy of my 70th birthday, meaning, when you read this, I’m 70 years old.
The words I write here and now, are for the woman who gave me life. My mother was born in Bridgeport, Connecticut in 1933. Her name was Leona Patricia Clark. The picture above was taken on my 47th birthday on October, 2, 2000.
I’ve had four parents in my life: two mothers and two fathers. I was adopted when I was a baby. I will not and do not identify parents with the words, birth, adoptive, or biological. None of my parents lived to see their 70th birthday.
I searched for, found, and was reunited with my mother the evening of January 8, 1987. My mother was as loyal and loving and brave as anyone I’ve ever known. Like many, she had a hard time recognizing what a wonderful person she was, how her capacity for touching hearts with kindness was and is matched by no one.
When mother was three, her mother died. A few weeks later, her father (my grandfather)left home and didn’t come back. Alcoholism had him by the throat. He left behind my three-year-old mother and her nine-year-old brother, Frank.
My Uncle Frank put his little sister on his bike and biked them to a family member’s house where they stayed. My grandfather, Frank Clark Sr, would die alone in a rooming house in 1958.
Uncle Frank died a young man in 1973, before I found my mother. He was my mother’s hero. When we met that evening face to face in a parking lot in Stamford, Connecticut, she later said it was like watching her brother walk towards her.
When we met – again, we’d had seven days together – we embraced, and I whispered into her ear as we held each other, “We made it.”
My mother died of liver cancer on December 19, 2001. Two days after she died, I got a package in the mail from her, with a gift inside. It was shaped like a box a pen might come in because, wouldn’t you know, it was the very same box a writing pen she’d given me for my birthday came in. Inside the box was a silver Saint Christopher’s medal and chain. The sculpted image of Saint Christopher carrying a child to keep the child safe, was on the front of the medal.
On the back were words from my mother.
I will always be in your heart
I’m 70 years old now, Mom. I made it.