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Mom`s Page

Written two days after mom "passed away

(I had intended to read this at my mom`s funeral when her body was shipped to Panama City, Florida.But I had to take care of her husband(my stepdad)who died only weeks afterward.Even to this day I never got the chance to visit my mother`s grave...)

She was my mother.
And I was her son,
or so she`d always tell me ---
even through the years of heartache I caused her
when,for instance,awaiting her to come see me
behind prison walls; and she`d arrive and ask,"can I see my son?"
She was always my mother and proud of it.

And I was always so ashamed.
Ashamed of being unworthy to be her son.
Ashamed to face her under such conditions and circumstances.
Ashamed of her hurting for me --- as possibly every mother
would do under such times as those.
But my need for her unwavering love would overpower my
shame, and so I`d come through the electric-steel doors
to the visiting area and she`d hold my hand those hours
while we`d stare at gun towers and razor-wire fences
and talk of tomorrows beyond.

She,as only a mother would do,would tell me
she loved me no matter what. And I would always
promise her this would never happen again.
And afterward it would. Again and again.
And always,when she could,she would arrive
to the entranceway of those fences and walls and ask,
"can I see my son?"
And I would walk into her awaiting arms,both of us
crying inside --- her tears were for my heartaches
and self-inflicted pain ; my tears were for my shame.

But she was my mother.
And I was her son.
Or so she`d always tell me ---
even through my failed marriages that wouldn`t have happened
if I`d only listened to her admonitions ; or failed careers
that would have succeeded if I`d have listened
to her advice.
She was my mother. And proud of it.
And again,and over again,I was ashamed.
Not because,from my perspective,she was soaring
so far above --- I was crawling so much below.

I remember her in her youth,her late twenties,
while I,not yet in puberty could see her beauty
even then through my callow eyes.
She was such a lovely lady,one whom my friends
were often incredulous to her being my mother---
they were ready to believe she was my older sister,perhaps,or grown cousin
or any other explanation than,"my mom".
I was proud.I was so very proud.
But,then again,I was always proud of her.
Perhaps that in itself was one of the embers
to start the fires of shame within me, a lifetime hence.
A near lifetime of selfishness,isolation,profligacy,
anger,and the searing flames of shame.
The maddening agony of shame...

But she was my mother.
And I was her son.
Or so she`d always tell me ---
even through her own times of failed marriages
until she found Emmett,the man of her dreams,
the man she spent the rest of her life with.
Even through all that,and more,she was always
so proud of me. Proud and never ashamed of her own
possible shortcomings in my eyes as I was of mine.
No,she had more courage than I,more intregrity,
more belief in herself and her love.
She had more self esteem,more insight,
and closer contact with herself than I.
She,in short,had womanhood and motherhood----
a combination more pervasive and powerful
than most men could ever understand.
And much too beautiful for most men to ever see.

It took years to be able to see and understand these things,
but I finally have.
And for that I`m proud. I`m so very proud.
Proud of her,as always,as well as proud of myself.

Yes,she was my mother.
And I was her son.
Or so she`d always tell me.
Even through these times of deepest sorrow
that she has left this life,this world ---
I`m telling her at the top of my heart`s voice,
"you are my mother,and I am your son!"

And I am so proud.
I am so very,infinitely proud.

Those fires of shame were extinguished by my tears
as well as all those crying with me over her loss.
A pride in myself that she has somehow left me
has given me a joyous life anew---
even despite the falling tears as
I compose these words now. A great poet once said,"love knows not
its own depth until its hour of separation".
And,oh God,how I feel that depth!
How I hurt so vast and infinite over our parting!

How immeasurably,mother do I love you!

And so,she is my mother.
And I am her son.
Or so I shall always be whispering to
every falling star,or rainbow,
or any certain summer day.
And I am proud of the sorrow itself that
her departure has engendered,for it has carved
out a greater capacity inside me to contain love,
understanding,compassion,and so many things
she patiently tried to teach me over the years.
She has left me with a legacy of treasures,
and of love and riches --- too numerous to count
and too grandiose to be contained
except within my soul.

And perhaps someday,at some infinite somewhere
called "heaven",where I may
or may not be allowed to enter,
I will at least approach the gates
and ask with loving pride,
"can I see my mother?
I am her son."

   ---Richard Lloyd James(1996)