But recently, I have been reminded of something Barack Obama wrote in the preface to the second edition of his moving memoir, Dreams from My Father. Describing the huge void his mother's death left in his life, he said that had he known he was going to lose her he might have written less about the absent parent, his father, and celebrated more the one who was "the single constant in my life."
It is, I suppose, only natural to be curious about the absent parent, to seek to fill in the gaps, to want to discover what is unknown. But it doesn't mean the known parent is any less loved.
A few days ago, I changed the tag line on my blog so that it no longer calls out solely to my paternal ancestors. Yesterday, in my Christmas post, I mentioned some of my maternal ancestors.
This, apparently, was not sufficient homage. The Mother line is NOT to be denied.
Though I have dedicated my blog to answering the ancestors' call, my mother may have felt that I wasn't listening carefully enough to her, so she called me out, as affronted mothers are prone to do.
"So, you aren't going to mention me in your blog...I'll just crash your cousin's blog!"
Now I didn't actually hear this when I woke up this morning, and saw a picture of my mother in a post on Teresa Vega's blog Radiant Roots, Boricua Branches, but I could definitely imagine my mother orchestrating this to get my attention.
Anne Louise Hirshson wasn't a pushy or particularly bold woman, but she had her pride. And the thing she was most proud of was her kids. She would very definitely want me to give credit where credit is due, and in that, she has a point. She and I both loved my father, but he was an occasional visitor in our lives. She was there, always.
She was a single mother, working two jobs to support her two children. She read to us, took us to the beach for picnics, let us find ourselves in school, played beautiful music, and encouraged our creativity. Mostly, she loved us, in her own way. She wasn't much for organized religion after growing up a preacher's kid, but we both knew it was her prayers and her model of sheer obstinacy that got me through graduate school and back home to teach at her alma mater. It was her scraping together her meager salaries that launched my brother and I, made it possible for us to have homes in one of the most expensive areas in the country.
I am going to continue to search for my paternal ancestors, but I want the record to show that I know I am who I am because of the Mother line, whether it is my love of a good book or great art (my grandmother, Eda Roscoe Biggs, was the artist who painted the pictures of Louis Hirshson and Anne Linnehan Hirshson in Teresa's post), or the sea (my great grandmother, Frances Augusta Roscoe grew up in Hall's Harbor, Nova Scotia), or my knowledge that a dutiful daughter best not ever neglect to mention her mother again!
Hope you're happy now, Mom. You know that's all I ever wanted for you.