My mother, Vivian, would have been 100 years old this past Friday. She has been gone almost nine years, almost a decade. How can that be? It seems like yesterday. Her name means “alive” in Latin, and I have worked to keep her alive every day: saying her name, talking to her, remembering when we laughed and cried together, eating her favorite foods, listening to her favorite songs – anything Sinatra. All the sweet memories we have, my mother consciously constructed. She knew life is short and that in the end all we have are memories to keep us company.
I can see her smile, hear her laughter, feel her warm embrace. She was not a perfect person but she loved me perfectly, and I am grateful. She gave me so many of her gifts: the love of the ocean, the love of art and musicals, the love of children, and the deep love of story. These things live in me today, and they were hers, and she gave them freely. I look at her handwriting, and even my cursive resembles hers. Now, when I look in the mirror quickly and see her face, I don’t frown. I smile and am comforted. There she is. She is not gone. She is right there on my face, in the ocean waves, in the painting of the sunrise, and in the little girl trying to read. Vivian’s right there beside me shining like a jewel, leading the way.
Jewel My mother, Smiling at sixteen, Long, tan legs, Slim swimsuit, Jewel of the Atlantic. My mother, Dark hair, dark eyes - Cinched waist, little black dress, Bright red lipstick, Jewel of the Jersey nights. My mother, Snipping with silver scissors, Cutting through fabric, Stitching with confidence, Jewel of a dressmaker. My mother, Sitting in the middle, Posing with her students, Doting on each and every one, Jewel of a teacher. My mother, Velvet February’s gift, Thoughtful and steadfast, Never complaining, Jewel of a mother. Shining forever In our hearts.