Yesterday was the 10th anniversary of the day you left this plane. Just as you preferred, no tears, no debilitating Irish black funk. Whenever you came to mind, many times, I remembered this picture of you and Dad. And that, dear Ma, helped me to smile, instead of pouring out the remaining grief. Like the day you died, I carried on with my life. Honoring you through the lessons I didn’t always want to hear, in the voice I so very much wish I could still hear. Sweet, irascible, ornery and determined… Ma, I miss you so.
If not for you wanting a mess of children, grieving through miscarriages, and battling illness each time one of your four sons were born, there would be no Patrick Brian. Had you not ignored the doctors’ prognoses and willed me to walk, I likely would have died decades ago. You could not abandon me to an institution as they told you to. Retarded, the doctors said. Never walk or talk, they added solemnly. And you to them: Bullshit.
For two-and-a-half years you studied effects of brain injuries, tried innovative exercises, broke new ground with each tiny bit of improvement. You willed my muscles to work. When I finally did walk, you rejoiced but never let me stop improving. As I grew, you constantly challenged me to excel. My first feeble attempts at writing you heartily praised and encouraged me to continue. Introducing me to classic authors, I became excited by the written word and aspired to be one myself someday. When I ran on the cross country team, you smiled and cheered even when I came in nearer the back of the pack than the front.
Because it must have been so traumatic, you didn’t tell me about my first two years being such a struggle until I was an adult. You refused to allow me to use my slow start as an excuse. There was nothing I couldn’t do, you said, if I truly wanted it. Gently coaxing yet always pushing, being tough when you had to, while calmly soothing my early life’s tragedies. Rewarding achievement and ignoring failure, your guidance led me toward an ability to excel. I realize now, my achievements were wonderful victories for you.
Yes, we argued as mothers and sons sometimes will. Some things you said and did hurt me, but surely my actions weren’t always perfect either. Your refusal to accept my beloved Stacey was painful beyond description. You know now though, how perfect she truly has been, and see the enduring love we have nurtured over 23 years.
Your love of roses grew within me. Your ashes were scattered (illegally, I’m sure) over a Lincoln in my favorite garden. The wind gusted suddenly as I let you fly, and I inhaled a part of you that afternoon, washed down with an abundance of tears.
How I wish we could talk today about everything we never had a chance to; to see those lovely hands, to kiss that wonderful face I resemble, to hear you laugh again. Surely a billion men wish this ability to turn back the ages and save our mothers, if for just one day.
You once told me, “Never look back, just keep moving forward… one step at a time”. Yet it’s the past which gave me this future. I look back not with longing, but fondness and a gratitude my words could never truly do justice.
Dedicated to the memory of
Patricia Gabrielle Romaine Coomer
December 1, 1926 – February 20, 2006