Remembering my mom

I usually don't post such personal stuff here, but I want to talk about my mom because she passed away exactly two weeks ago, and today would've been her birthday, which always fell on or near Mother's Day.

My mom was ill during recent years, which is one of the reasons why I didn't post here so much. She really had a great attitude during that time, and I decided several years ago to spend as much time with her as I could instead of focus totally on what I wanted to do and achieve. I managed to work and build up a decent resume, but she and my dad (who is still alive) were my priority, and even though people were puzzled by my lifestyle and some were even critical, I stuck to that decision, even though I struggled with what I wanted vs what I knew would be best in the long run. Now that she is gone, I know for sure that I made the right choice, and I have absolutely no regrets at all. Actually, I'm very happy that I spent a lot of time with her, and I encourage others to do the same, if they are able to make that choice. I feel free and very satisfied, and the feelings of doubt and wondering if I should conform to what others are doing are totally gone.

My mom was born in Germany and came to the US when she was a kid because the Nazis were killing and persecuting Jews. Some of her family didn't get out of Europe, so they ended up dying in concentration camps.

I had no interest in German and had no idea that she was able to speak it until I was living in Japan and saw her speak German with a German priest at a Catholic church in my neighborhood. He was a very nice man whose father helped Jews during the Nazi era, and they talked about that for a while. After their conversation, he told me that my mother spoke German well, and I was totally surprised. Even though my grandparents were from Germany and probably spoke German with each other, I never heard them speak with my mom. Her English was absolutely perfect, and she was very passionate about making sure that everyone's use of English was excellent, even professional journalists who she wrote letters to, to point out mistakes or phrases that she thought weren't effective.

I decided to start studying German when I was getting a Master's degree in Education because I was able to take classes for free (I was teaching classes which gave me a tuition break), and I figured it would be a good experience to learn my family's language. My mom didn't show much enthusiasm for my decision because of her family's negative history, and when my parents took my family to Germany to see where my mom and other family members were from, she didn't even bother to speak it for the first few days, which meant that the family had to rely on my weak German to get them around. Eventually she spoke and people said her German was really good.

I don't think she knew that I had a language-themed blog, and I don't think she knew what blogs were. I think I've inherited my love of language from her because she was always analyzing writing and was obviously good at language. She really was passionate about what she read and believed that English usage should be appropriately precise and expressive. She also used her German and English skills to translate my grandmother's letters and a children's short story.

Since I've been focusing so much on Japanese reading for the past few years, my German has become awful, so a few days ago, I started reading Kontakte, which is an excellent textbook that I used in my beginning German classes. I just noticed that registration is no longer required to use their online resources, so I'm going to do that as well!

I miss her because she was a big part of my life and she was a wonderful person, but I know that she would've wanted me to enjoy my life and do what I want. When I told her that I was going to teach this summer only once a week instead of several times a week, she was happy about it. Sadly, she's not around for me to spend time with her, but she told me to relax and spend time doing what makes me happy, which I will do.

At this point, I only want to do what I want to do, and I only want to be with people that I want to be with. I really don't want to put up with things and people that bring me down or that are a waste of time. I have to get used to my new life and schedule, but I think I will adjust eventually.


Ellie K said...

I was reading "A Don's Life" at TimesOnline Typepad and saw your cool-sounding blog name in the sidebar.

You were so wise to have spent that time with your mother when you could. My father passed in July 2009. I could have spent time with him in his
last year, as it was clear what the outcome would be. It would have meant dropping everything and living across the country. I did not do so, and I regret it more than I can say. I did visit him twice during that year, for a week each time, but it flew by, I didn't want to leave. I should have listened to my heart, and stayed with him.

I am sorry for your loss. But I can tell you with certainty: You did the right thing, for your mother, and for yourself.

Margaret Larkin said...

Thank you very much for sharing and for your kind words. I have no regrets at all. I think that some people end up regretting what they did or didn't do because once the person dies, communication totally ends, and people realize that it's truly totally over; there are no more opportunities for anything.