I’ve been noticing my feet a lot lately. They look like my mom’s feet. My feet are bigger than hers were, which makes sense because I’m nearly half a foot taller than she was but they are the same shape and they move the same way. I always loved my mom’s hands and feet. They were cute and small, but expressive. If my mom was talking her hands were moving and her feet too, if she didn’t have shoes on, were rarely still.
My mother died this year and coming to terms with that has been a surprising journey. I didn’t know what to expect because we had not been close for many years. My mother was an incredible woman who gave me the greatest gift I have ever received, permission to be myself. That being said in my adult life I found it hard to be close to my mom. My expectations of her were rarely met and that was frustrating and painful for both of us. We got along best at a distance, though I know we both wished that were not so. I didn't go to her funeral. Money was tight, time was tighter and there would be no one there who would be happy to see me. That left me a little ungrounded in the reality of her being gone. It has sunk in slowly, bit by bit, like the sun dawning, seeping in until suddenly it is daylight.
My mother enjoyed taking note of the similarities between us. I suppose that’s pretty normal, as is the fact that it grated on me. We see our parents flaws and our need to grow beyond those flaws makes us reject entirely any comparisons. Mama too struggled with some of the things that she didn’t like in herself, and saw in me. She was a wiggler, like me, full of kinetic energy. When I was small my inability to be still was distracting and frustrating for her and she used to regularly make me sit on my hands in the hopes of keeping me from moving around so much. Of course, that only meant my legs, my feet, even my face, moved more.
In the later years of her life my mom was mostly bed ridden from disability but even in her sleep her feet jumped around, toes wiggling in all different directions. I notice my feet do that too. This sudden awareness of sameness is a thoroughly unexpected aspect of my grief, but it is a welcome one. The bereaved are the biographers of the deceased, remembering them, telling their stories, keeping their spirits alive. The story of my mom’s wiggly feet is not a story of great import to the world, but it reminds me of how I am like her and what that means about who I am.
Marie Ory was a woman who refused to conform to any rules she didn’t agree with. She was creative and intelligent. She was well known for her ability with the written word. She was passionate, devoted, caring, generous and funny. Mama was a person who believed in justice and fairness, no matter what anyone said about life not being fair. Mama liked to cook and she made things that felt like love from the kitchen. She was pretty in a non-conventional sort of way and was easy to smile, easy to laugh, and easy to talk to. She had fluttery feet and hands that were never really still even when she wasn’t using them for any specific purpose. I am proud to say that I am like my mother in all of these ways. My mom was proud of me for growing past some of her traits and I am proud of myself for that too. I’m glad she never was able to get me to sit still...