My mother died on a beautiful day, three years ago today. The sky was a rich, cloudless blue, the air warm and clear. It was the kind of day she loved, the kind rarely found during a typical hazy, hot and humid Long Island summer.
On any other day like this, she would be out by the pool in her swimsuit and old shorts, book in hand. Morning spent watering flowers with the garden hose before laying out on the lawn chairs, then lunch under the patio umbrella, tuna salad on toast with a pitcher of Country Time lemonade. After lunch, back to the pool to read, floating on inflatable rafts, avoiding the late day shade in the deep end. Happy hour starts early with homemade Pina Coladas, thin and salty pretzels and background music from the Tiki Bar and you wonder why any of us would ever want to be any place else. End the day firing up the grill, hamburgers, hot dogs and Walbaums potato salad, and listening for the ice cream man so we can chase it barefoot down the steamy pebbly street with a handful of change. Fireflies come out, bug zapper lights up and the remains of the sun go down.
My mother died three years ago today, my grandparent’s (her parent’s) 62nd wedding anniversary. Three years ago today, exactly six months to the day that her first grandchild (my son) would be born. Three years ago, a Sunday, a day she would have delighted in, even suggested heading out to Fire Island or the Babylon town beach.
A lot has happened since then. I have a wonderful, caring, funny, smart and very active little boy. I bought a new house (that my mother would love) and move in one week. I am getting married to the love of my life in three weeks, before all of our family and friends. G and I just celebrated our 10 year anniversary the end of May. Never once during my adolescence did I ever imagine this would be my life, that I would ever be so fortunate to have found love and happiness and build a family and a community. Never did I imagine having a partner who was so loved and embraced by my rather conservative Roman-Catholic family. To see my mother and my wife spend their own quality time together was such an incredible and awesome experience for me, something you couldn’t have convinced me of as a teenager. And at the end of this month, I get to stand up in front of all those who love and care about us and publicly commit to G for another 70+ years.
On June 28th, my mother won’t be there to celebrate, at least physically. She loved a party, especially one with family and good friends, and no doubt she would be on the dance floor, doing her slightly awkward “mom dance” to “Get the Party Started” (or any Pink song) long after everyone else tired, going until the venue lights came on. Today, on my future wedding day and really, every day, I think of her and all the good that she brought to our lives…the laughter, the fun, the love and even the discipline (immortalized by her dark red “angry church lipstick”). I see her in my siblings, in my wife, in my son and in myself. Today she may be commemorated but she is remembered, celebrated and loved forever.