My mom, Edna Lorraine Kerrigan, with Rusty (who I never met but heard epic stories about), 1958.
Last night I dreamt my mom was at our front door, smiling. It’s not unusual that I dream of my mom, who passed away last year. What was unusual about the dream was that she was at the front door. She would have come in through any other door in the house; not the front door. Perhaps she thought that this particular visit was unexpected.
This is the first year that I almost forgot about Mother’s Day. Ever since I can remember, I would begin thinking about what I’d get my mom for Mother’s Day back on Saint Patrick’s Day, my mom’s birthday. But this year, I didn’t give Mother’s Day much if any thought and in fact, didn’t even know when it was going to occur, until yesterday.
Contributing to my lack of memory is the fact that it hardly seems like it’s been a full year since I wrote my last year’s “Happy Mother’s Day” post. It’s been a busy year at OESH and we’ve been working hard on a new project that we hope to launch and talk about soon; a project that I know my mom would be especially proud of, but which I never had a chance to tell her about. Except for in my dreams.
Here is what I wrote:
“Unconditional love,” my mom used to say, “is the most important thing a mother can give to her child.”
That she gave and more and taught me to give the same to my own daughters. She was successful in making me strong and independent and to never feel like I couldn’t do something just because I was a girl.
I could talk to my mom about anything. And well after I achieved adulthood, I still relied upon her for advice. Should I be a doctor? What kind of a doctor? Should I leave academic medicine to build a shoe factory? Although super smart in ways that I am not (she was a brilliant school teacher and had an amazing understanding of the English language), my mother did not have much scientific experience, other than being married to my scientific genius father and typing his Chemistry PhD thesis. Nonetheless, she so very clearly understood my research and would often help me articulate its impact.
I remember my mom being much dismayed by the poor footwear choices for women. She would tell me about her own mother being physically disabled from wearing high-heeled shoes. And when I was five-years old, and my grandmother, who lived in New York, came to visit us in San Diego, I was struck with the fact that it was painful for her to walk.
Years later, when I discovered the biomechanical link between high-heeled shoes and knee osteoarthritis, I could hardly wait to come home to tell my mom about it. By that time, she was living with us, caring for our first daughter, Jayme, while I worked. My mom must have read to her nearly every minute of the day. She continued to live with us and did the same with our second and third daughters, Kellyn and Zoe. In so doing, my mom successfully passed on her love for books to our daughters.
My mom was always well ahead of her times and, all along, the sweetest person you could ever meet. She passed away seventy-two days ago on February 28, 2014, shortly after Jayme was accepted to Oxford to “read” English, and seventeen days before what would have been her 91st birthday. One of our dear friends said to me, “I know this time of reflection must be hard. A mother’s bond is the most elemental bond.” Indeed it is hard. Even though my mother had fairly severe dementia (such that we no longer could enjoy the conversations we used to have) for several years, she always knew who I was. And although she had difficulty recognizing objects, she always lit up when I showed her my latest OESH design. I loved giving her the very first pair of any new style we made just as much as she loved wearing them.
Happy Mother’s Day Mom. Mother’s Day or not, I love you always and forever.