By Wendy Reichental
Someone once told me that it takes roughly ten years after losing a parent to finally notice a change in your grief. It was only a few months after my mom had passed away from a stroke and I could not imagine feeling this heartache and pulsating sadness getting any better– not in ten years, not in my lifetime.
Yet, here I am approaching this milestone ten-year mark since my cherished mom passed away in 2010, and admittedly, that person who said those words to me was right. My grief over losing my mom is still with me, but it has transitioned to a more tangible entity. My grief is now buried deep within my soul, and what you see on the surface is a person who has done her best to move on and evolve. Where I once felt weighed down by the grief, I am now more buoyed in the stories and memories I can share about my beloved mother and know by doing so, she is still with me.
This September 16th my mom’s passing coincides with the upcoming Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashanah) known for being a subdued time of well wishes, pensive reflections, introspection and repentance. It’s also associated with lots of good food of course where traditions are observed and passed down to generations. This time of year I will not only be celebrating the holiday, but honoring my parents in memory recalling all the laughter and good times we shared, and a few strange rituals left behind by my mom, that simply put won’t wash away.
You know how people say that over the years we start to resemble our pets, or our spouses? Well, you can definitely add something else over that same span of time; grown daughters start to become their… mothers! I didn’t want to believe it either. For years my husband would mention that I have similar quirky mannerisms and things in common with my mom. He would reference silly things, from my obsession with buying purses to my Eastern European mentality and forceful insistence that family and friends have something to eat as soon as they step foot in the house, to in general being too menacingly over protective and sensitive.
Was it true?
Was I becoming my mother?
I staunchly denied it.
After all, I did not even physically resemble her, not to mention display any of her talents for cooking, crocheting, knitting, and painting landscapes and portraits.
It started innocently enough with laundry. I emptied the swollen hamper of miscellaneous colorful clothing into my washing machine. I added some vinegar (like my mother used to do). She always said vinegar is known to help preserve color vitality. A half hour later I heard the machine stop, I opened the lid and saw a zillion tiny nasty pieces of shredded Kleenex adhering to every inch of clothing! As I painstakingly tried to pull each stubborn Kleenex remnant off of each wet item, I spotted the culprit – my dark navy top had the remaining tissue still tucked deep in the cuff of my sleeve. This was one of those weird practices I observed my mom do when a pocket was not available– the good ol’ ‘tuck under the sleeve routine’ would work just fine, unless you absentmindedly forgot to remove it and then well, it all comes out in the wash.
I have to concede that I owe my husband an apology. Perhaps he was and is right – maybe we eventually do morph into our moms. My mom would have laughed to hear how I have picked up some of her unique habits. My only hope is that she is somewhere up there smiling and already knows.
Wendy Reichental graduated from McGill University with a Bachelor’s in Psychology and Linguistics in the mid-80s and enjoyed the campus atmosphere so much – she never left. She has put her Dip. in Human Relations and Family Life Education (also from McGill) to good use by utilizing her interpersonal skills at her administrative position which she held for more than 20 plus years at McGill’s School for Continuing Studies. She decided to take early retirement at 57 to pursue reflexology and hopes to find herself gainfully employed at a wellness center. In addition to this, Wendy’s passion is in writing and capturing life passages and sharing her stories of foibles, flaws, and relationships. Her writings have appeared in The Montreal Gazette, Ottawa’s Globe and Mail, and various online magazines. She lives with her husband in Montreal, Canada.
This is Wendy’s third post on EricaDiamond.com. Her first post Making New Friends After 50 and second post More Time Together Than These Boomers Ever Imagined! were so loved here!