my mother: as well as i knew her
In loving memory of Emma Louise Davis (Balog) - 9/3/1940 - 1/19/2011
first draft published in 2014
My mama would have been 82 today.
She turned 41 the year I was born. I was her only child, and she doted on me better and more than any June Cleaver or Mama Berenstein Bear ever could have.
My mama loved to read and researched everything. She was actually brilliant, yet genuinely humble.
She was a stewardess with Southwest Airlines in the 60's (when that was a glamourous job), and bought her own house as a single woman in the 1970's - after she helped her parents buy their first home.
She travelled around the world, ever the spiritual seeker.
I only had 30 years of my life with her...the last of which was very challenging. Two weeks after the birth of my fourth child, my mom fell in her kitchen and broke the head of her femur cleanly off. She was slated for hip replacement surgery and was supposed to be walking again within weeks.
However, during the surgery, she had a series of strokes that took away most of her movement, including her ability to swallow or speak.
We used to talk on the phone for at least an hour several times a week, about nothing much at all - and so instantly, I lost that connection.
The night before her surgery, we had what would turn out to be our last conversation. My husband made a big fuss to get me to the hospital to see her before the surgery, and I’m so glad I went. I still regret deleting her last voicemail.
My mama spent the larger part of her last 14 months in a nursing home, with a feeding tube in her stomach, unable to communicate except with her eyes and one of her hands. I grieved more in the first few months of her decline than when she passed - as her passing was really mercy.
My mother struggled with insanely high blood pressure for years, starting when I was a small child.
She had horrific side effects from most of the medications they wanted her to take.
Once, inexplicably, her leg swelled up to over twice its normal size, and did not return to normal for many months, even after stopping the medication.
She had to go buy skirts because none of her jeans fit, and the doctors were baffled. A regular blood pressure reading for her in those days was in the neighborhood of 250/190. The doctors thought it was a marvel that she was still alive.
After loads of different combinations of meds, and pleading with the doctors to research alternatives - she finally decided that the side effects from any of the pills were so despicable, she’d rather deal with the problem on her own.
She became (and remained, until the feeding tube was installed) a strict vegan, eating only the most natural, unrefined, and nutritious foods; I have never met anyone with such dedication and rigid adherence to a diet like she had. However, she also had a habit of skipping sleep, due to her compulsion about cleaning.
Four hours of sleep a night was ‘normal’ for her, and of course, that's not healthy.
My mother was a textbook case of OCD, although it was never diagnosed. Her home was immaculate and precisely managed, down to the last can of cat food.
There is a single square of vinyl flooring in the middle of her kitchen that gleamed and shined in contrast to the others around it.
In her zeal, my mom had actually cleaned the finish right off the entire floor, and then, one night, had spent a full 30 minutes buffing that one square, just to see how nice she could make it look.
She was so proud of that square, and she would point it out every time we came over. It makes me smile to remember how happy it seemed to make her.
My mom never worked a day in my life, and never once was I left with a sitter.
She would bring me any snack or dinner that my little, spoiled heart desired (probably on a TV tray, with a soda), and I had every Barbie, My Little Pony, and Fisher-Price toy you could imagine.
She was so devoted to me, that I initially had no idea how I would cope with parenthood, beause I was clearly not emotionally capable of living up to that standard.
I was probably six years old, and still asking to be carried when we went to the mall. My mom would have roped the moon for me if I'd asked....and I never even understood how lucky I was. I thought all mothers were like that.
However, my mother also held over 100 jobs in her life before I was born, from court reporter to realtor.
She was deeply passionate about vegetarianism, having been veg on and off since roughly the age of 10.
More than once, she told me the story of her purchasing two yellow chicks at the dime-store for ten cents each...how she raised them in her bathroom, kissed them, loved them, and played with them until they were so big that they had to be sent away for slaughter.
My mom spent the first 6 years of her formal education in a Catholic school, taught by nuns who would rap you over the knuckles with a ruler if your cursive was a bit sloppy.
Terrifyingly, she also survived gang rape with a knife at her throat when she was just a child, and she never fully healed from that extreme trauma.
She was a deeply spiritual person, and sampled + researched many belief systems in her lifetime.
I know at one point, she was very into transcendental meditation. She taught me several chants when I was little, and I wish I could still remember them.
At one point, she felt strongly that it was immoral to kill bugs, and actually tried to minimize driving her car on the highway in an effort to protect them.
In 1990, my mother convinced my father to move us into a new house...to minimize our exposure to EMFs, despite the fact that nobody believed in the dangers of EMFs!
She also wanted to buy a rife machine in the early 1990s (I still have the newsprint flyer that she saved!)
She was often ahead of her time.
My mama was fierce and also broken, tender and timid, yet incredibly strong.
She was not afraid to die, and welcomed it with joy, hope, and laughter.
I remember as a kid, thinking I might only have that long with my mom, since she was already in her 40s. She made it just past my 30th birthday, and met 4 of my 5 kids.
Years after her passing, I found Human Design, and realized she was a Projector like me.
Specifically, a 6/2 Projector like me, with only two centers defined (Ego and Spleen for her, G and Throat for me) - and an ego-authority, which is fairly uncommon.
She was a triple Virgo, yet a Dragon in the Chinese zodiac - but I reckon I didn't get to meet that side of her fully.
She would always order the most spectacular dish on the menu when we ate Chinese food - flaming snow peas - they'd bring it out in a metal wok and pour flames into it, and everyone in the restaurant would stop to watch!
My mama loved pink and roses and everything Victorian, and for most of my life, I thought they were so boring and cliché.
Yet, I'm slowly welcoming pink and roses and softness back into my life, as her absence stretches in front of me. My teen daughter also loves pink and roses, and associates those things with the scant memories she has of her grandmother.
When I was 13, my grandparents came to live with us, and life was forever altered for all of us.
Our home was suddenly like a nursing home, and 13-year old me felt very displaced and abandoned. The following year, my grandmother passed, and my mother nearly came unhinged between her extreme grief, caring for her father, and raising me.
She renewed her commitment to ethical vegetarianism then, and dove back into Catholicism as well In the haze of her grief and fear, she pressured teenage-me to become Catholic - but despite that trauma, I still regard my early, religion-free years as one of the best gifts she gave me.
My mom also had an insatiable need to read and listen to psychics. I guess she needed to know that she'd see her mother again, that there was an "other side".
My mother was a diehard Democrat, and very opinionated on politics for someone who didn't vote!
She and my father would argue endlessly about Bush, Clinton, Bill O'Reilley, and even Oprah. I think it was bonding for them.
My mother was also an impassioned supporter of....Jack Kevorkian. I know she would never have chosen to live out the last 14 months of her life in the way she did. There are many regrets. A DNR could have been signed sooner.
But then, no good will come of speculating on what another person's cosmic life plan is really all about, of course. There's some things that just aren't for us to know.
I do believe my mother made peace with her life, her choices, her reality.
I know that she was truly ready to move on to the next life. She’d sometimes joke about being ready to reincarnate, so she could get a new body!
I know that she was unafraid and welcoming of the new frontiers that lay ahead for her.
I used to feel such regret for the things I’d never been able to tell her - how much I loved and appreciated her.....and how fortunate I was to have her as my mother.
Now, I view death differently. I’ve lost count of how many signs, messages, and even shared jokes I’ve shared with my mama since she’s been in spirit. I can talk to her more freely and easily now, with less static and misunderstandings, than we ever could when she was in physical form - and I get answers back almost instantly.
I know she knows I love her, and have forgiven her.
However - there’s no substitute for this lived, shared reality! Today - I wish I could bake her a birthday cake, take her out for a Juiceland drink and Whole Foods salad…and give her a big hug.
birthawakening is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.