A love letter to my mom

who are these kids and why are they calling me mom


Recently, when rummaging through boxes in the basement, I came across some of your old essays that you wrote in 1997. Just shy of graduating from Loyola you wrote an essay retelling the blessings and struggles of life. In it, you offer, “I continue to look for clues of The Holy Spirit in books, thru people and within myself.”

Eighteen years later, in the midst of Alzheimer’s I hear and see whisperings of The Spirit in you, Mom.  So there are things I need to tell you. Things that cannot go unsaid:

Do you know…

That you taught me how to love?

Do you know…

that when kids huddle at my feet in the hallway and squeal, “Missss Jodiii!!” as I walk into their hugs, I smile and close my eyes wishing I could call you on the phone and tell you about these amazingly, resilient kids. Knowing, you were my first example of unconditional love, perseverance, and resilience. You were my first teacher.

Do you know…

that when you were 14 you wrote an essay of your adolescent life titled, The Ugly Duckling.. Which is ironic because you are the most beautiful woman I have ever known.

And it’s just plain crazy because you have NEVER, NOT ONCE, spoke of feeling inadequate as a child.

Do you know..

You wrote once, “I aspired to be a Saint” in reference to your stint as a gingham wearing postulate, channeling Julie Andrews as Sister James Mary.

That when you were so miserable in year 2 @ the convent, a priest counseled you out of becoming a nun. You reported, “Once I knew it was okay to serve God as a single or married woman, I ran outside, hoisted my scapular and habit to let the sun warm my bones and get a headstart on a good ‘ole Rosie suntan”

Just that image, Mom, makes me smile.

Do you know..

that you met dad @ St. Paul of the Cross Youth group and that you were complete opposites?

And that he is your everything.

Do you know…

that when the doctor commanded you to bed rest for months, when you were pregnant with me,  you did it-like most things in life-because you had to. And without complaint.

Do you know…

that when you lost five pregnancies you responded with, “Life is tough, you just have to keep moving forward.”

Did you know…?

that the almost two years you spent holding my pinky finger-willing me to walk you prayed so hard that I finally walked @ 22 months on The Feast of the Holy Rosary?

God, I am sure going in and out of the neighbor’s garage, with me holding on for dear life– got old–real quick!

And that when you thought you’d loose your sanity raising the first four kids, you said, “Investing in Arndt Earthworms saved my sanity…It was cheaper than reserving a bed at Forrest Sanitarium.. The riches of the experience giving me a renewed spirit and a new baby, Meghan Rose.”

Oh, how that image of you totting bags of seed on your back with a growing belly makes me chuckle.

Did you know…?

That now…

I creep down in the basement and rummage through your old clothes just to smell your scent.

When we sit together in the family room  I purposefully choose the other couch just so I can look at you? Watching you sip your coffee reminds me of those mornings I’d spend on your lap when I was three.

Did you know…?

that I have a zip locked bag full of memories that I carry with me, so that whenever I need my Mom, you are there.

Do you understand…?

that you were my first friend? My confidant? That I long to recall your gems of insight over beers @ Will’s.

that I like cutting your nails–when you let me–because I get to hold your hand.

Is it ok…?

that wish I could jump into your lap as my 42 year-old self as you scratch my back, whispering, “Everything will be okay.”

that I want my future children to know you as you were and as you are now.

that you are still my mom, although sometimes you don’t remember.

Finally, as I flip the pages of your essay, I’ll close with your own words, Mom:

May my story provide you with more trust and hope than I had, so that you too will believe. 

With all my heart,


1 thought on “A love letter to my mom”

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