I was a young teacher and a new wife. It was a time of possibilities and looking forward. Fall registration was open at the university and I had just signed up for classes. I had gotten a master’s degree a couple years earlier but still felt the pull of learning and growing in a formal, classroom environment. I had purchased several books on preparing for the birth of your baby. I loved teaching and was enthusiastically involved in the beginning days of a new school year. So, I was looking ahead with a great deal enthusiasm for growth in many dimensions. Then, I got the call. My mom Rosalyn was hospitalized.
Mom had dealt with cancer earlier and had just passed the 5 year mark. Without words our family had breathed a sigh of relief. Now what, I asked myself. Mom had dealt with kidney cancer. That week I dropped my classes at the university and every afternoon after my teaching day I would go to my mother’s bedside in the hospital. This was my routine until early December when mom was released because there was nothing more that could be done.
So now my routine was altered only by the location stopping by mom and dad’s house every afternoon. Mom was failing but still able to converse some when she told me that she had gone to a fortune teller prior to getting ill. She was very excited to tell me what she has learned! I was going to have a girl. Remember, this was back in the day where you didn’t learn about the sex of your baby until he/she plopped into someone’s waiting hands. I was going to have a daughter.
There was more. This daughter was coming to take my mother’s place. This part of the forecast I didn’t want to accept. But, there it was. My mother grew increasingly more within herself and died on a Wednesday morning as I was getting ready for my teaching day, January 4th. I was six months pregnant. And my mother had just died.
I remember feeling a sense of protectiveness for this baby I was carrying and as soon as I could that day went in to see my doctor. Everything was fine. Yet it wasn’t. Rachel, yes it was a baby girl, was born on May 6th. Not a particularly notable day except for one thing. May 6th was my mother’s birthday also. So it appears that yes indeed, this baby was coming to take my mother’s place.
Just when a young woman .. a young mother .. needs her mother the most, I lost mine. With no extended family around, I relied on instincts, my father and books to help me navigate motherhood. Add in the complexity of Rachel “taking my mother’s place,” I felt that I must rise to the challenge. There was no other option. I pray that as a mother and a grandmother that I have met this challenge. But I also wonder what might have been. What would I have learned from my mother? What support did we miss out on? And I am saddened that my children never knew their grandma except in pictures. I know one thing, my mother would have fiercely loved them.
And now, I enjoy love and a wonderful relationship with my daughter. And she has given me two glorious granddaughters. I feel so privileged that I have been given the opportunity to be part of their lives. I love them all so dearly. Thus, I sit here bookended on one side by beautiful, sweet, strong mother, Rosalyn. And on the other side, my beautiful, sweet, strong daughter, Rachel. I am blessed.