"I remember my mother's prayers and they have always followed me. They have clung to me all my life." ~Abraham Lincoln
My mother used to say, “I love you, Heather Lynn, but I don’t like you right now” and then she’d send me to my room for my infraction du jour. To be fair my adolescence was the stuff of Lifetime Movies. There was drama and door slamming and then the door was removed from its hinges. I was a hellish teenager.
In hindsight the relationship between my mother and I was normal and maternal. Nothing spectacular. Peggy isn’t one for endless displays of affection but is good with surprises. Like, when she took me out of school to go to New York City to see the Rockettes or the time she took me to Chicago for my 16th birthday to see Oprah and to visit my dream college. She was good at grand gestures and to this day doesn’t really enjoy being hugged but simply wants to be appreciated and respected.
I would assume that being raised by strict, God-fearing southerners doesn’t really present itself with the need for a parent to be liked. Parents should be respected, yes and possibly feared. As a child I was told to be seen and not heard and when rules were broken I was free to pick out the switch of my choosing. I have no doubt in my mind that this is a woman who loved me with a fierceness it’s just that so much of parenting is a learned behavior and what she did or didn’t learn - and that isn’t my story to tell - from her parents she had to fall into with hope that she was doing the best she could.
Anyway, this was supposed to be about how I came to like my mother because I do. It isn’t just that encompassing love that a child might have for their parent but a genuine like of a woman who is dear to me. I have wondered if I would feel this way even if she weren’t my mother and I have realized that I would. I didn’t discover this until my 20’s when I moved back to Albany. I was told it was a bad idea to work with my mother and that I’d hate it and was treated to hypothetical stories of, “GOD. If I had to work with my mother I’d jump out of the window”. It was difficult yes. What people said about me was even harder, that I received a position simply because of who gave birth to me. Which couldn’t have been further from the truth and what hurt my deeply six years ago I shrug at now. For if you were to see us together you’d know that we have our moments of being mother and daughter and nitpicking about my hair or my clothing or why I’m showing so much cleavage.
She’s the manager. The one who others respect. Ah...that’s it. That’s why I like her and respect her because others do and she commands it by being a pleasant person to work with. While I ignore people she says hello. While I let acts of betrayal or dishonesty consume me she compartmentalizes and moves on. She can forgive but keep it in the back of her mind. I...well, right now I’m toeing the line of saying something I shouldn’t say and she’ll read this paragraph and shake her head. “Heather Lynn...” she’ll say under her breath. I’m the emotional one who puts it out there. She’s the one who keeps it in - at times to her detriment but she’s good at not letting people see her sweat. Over the past six years she has given me another gift - almost as good as that time she gave me life and a college education and paid for the movies yesterday - which is someone to look to and a way for me to realize my faults simply by watching her.
She retires in July. Have I mentioned this? Have I mentioned my reaction or how I feel anxious whenever it’s brought up? Have I mentioned how much I will miss her? Because, my God, I will miss that woman profoundly. I’m tearing up just thinking about it because she’s more than just my mother leaving or another manager leaving. It’s the mixture of the two and a loss that I am still unprepared for.
It will be good for her and it will be good for me. After almost 30 years of wanting nothing but the best for me I suppose I could do the same for her.
*I love you the moon and the stars, Peggy Barmore and I wouldn’t trade you in for any other mother on the planet. - Heather Lynn.*