Updated: May 29
This one’s different. There hasn’t been a Happy Father's Day in Connecticut in a few years, but now Mother’s Day rings off-key. My mother and my sister’s mother-in-law, Dale - who’s been family for almost 40 years - left us in the past few months. My mother around Christmas, and Dale just a few weeks ago.
All of my brothers and sisters and I finished clearing Mom’s condo for resale a few weeks ago. I feel Mom’s loss the most at odd moments, in private. I was hit hardest when I walked out the door the last time. It would be the final visit I’d make to a place I’d been visiting for 20 years.
I was working alone this night. Usually, my brothers Mick or Pat, or sisters Chris or Karen would be around. When I turned to close the door and lock it, that was it. I took the pic below and walked quickly to my car so no one would see I was tearing up. The whole drive home, I felt it. Finally, just about there, I called Susie and told her about it.
Unbelievably, it was the 15th anniversary of the day that her mother passed. I hadn’t realized. Coincidence, I guess. Serendipitous? No. It was sad, and It was odd. I regret that I never met Susie’s mother, Yolanda “Yoli” Espinosa, but whenever anyone mentions her, they smile. If that’s how they remember me, I’m good.
Her father, Ignacio, “Nacho,” has the same rep. Best guy ever. He raised three daughters and a son. How does anyone raise three daughters? And he’s still taller than me, with better hair.
Fast forward a week later, and my sister unexpectedly broke the news that Dale passed suddenly during the night. Totally out of the blue. At 83, she seemed young, and I didn’t know she had any serious health problems. She was tall, pretty, and always lively with a little chip on her shoulder.
She and Mom got along well, with different styles from different backgrounds. And of course, Yoli, from the rural south of Mexico, much younger than both of them. Mom was from an older generation, and they were all loving, wonderful mothers. Dale was more straightforward, whereas Mom used more psychological tactics.
Mom might say, “your hair’s still growing, that’s for sure.”
“You need a haircut,” is how Dale would say it.
“I hope you all had a nice time shooting the breeze at Karen and Glenn’s last night,” Mom would say.
“Have you been hanging around with Glenn again?” is how Dale would say it.
Mom obsessed over food, but I’m not sure exactly what Yoli or Dale were into. I’m pretty sure it was their kids. All three were blessed with the best husbands. All hardworking with wise manners and easygoing. Tough guys with a sense of humor and a lot of patience
They all focused on family first and everything else second.
Mexico, Ohio, and New Hampshire
Dale grew up in rural New Hampshire, and from the stories she told me, it sounded like she came from an ideal place. She had a commanding presence, but in a nice way. I enjoyed the family gatherings and her wise-ass humor at appropriate times. Christmas Eve was always fun with everyone together from both families and more contrasting personalities in one place than a congressional hearing.
I will dearly miss them both, and regret I never met Yolanda. She was from Oaxaca, in Southern Mexico, and grew up on a farm, and Susie’s told me stories about eating mangos under trees when she was little and the ladies making fresh foods every day in all kinds of ways.
Mom, of course, was with me through everything I’ve gone through, and with Dad, responsible for making me who I am today. So you can blame them.
You never spend enough time with your loved ones. I’m as guilty as anyone, trading off between two states. No matter how much time you spend. It will be that way until the end of time. You can’t always do everything, but spend what time you can with your family, and do your best.
Happy Mother's Day to all the mothers out there, wherever you are Mom, Yoli, and Dale. Susie’s feeling it still, and this one’s going to be different in Southbury and West Hartford.
I guess we’ll take it from here.