Mary, “Mare” (as she was often called), Mom & Grammy….I could go on and on about my mom, for so many reasons. I sorted through a lot of of my favorite pictures to find the right one for this blog post. I chose one that tells a story of a young Mary, showing off her stylish bob while wearing a fun 70’s style brown leather jacket and for whatever reason, holding a single red rose. What I would do to turn back time and hang out with her in 1974. My mom had a smile that lit up a room and a laugh that was totally infectious. Her smile was warm and inviting, just like her personality. She was my best friend and we had a bond that I don’t think can really be explained in written words. I saw a medium recently who has read for me a few times. My mom always comes through very strong during these readings, which I’m so grateful for. The medium told me she strongly believes we were mother and daughter in a past life, because our bond appears so strong even through heavenly “veil”. I felt so much comfort in hearing this because when I was young and even up until the day she died, I remember feeling like I could read her mind in a sense. As her illness progressed and she couldn’t adequately communicate her needs or wants, I always felt compelled to fiercely advocate for her, even when others had different opinions. I had a confidence that my voice would be able to communicate to others what she would want. Throughout my time on earth with her, it felt as if I needed her as much as she needed me. To say we were soulmates is an understatement.
My mom was diagnosed with a progressive form of Multiple Sclerosis when I was around 13. The MS was ugly and came in like a force, it wasn’t slow to progress like other forms. This happened as I was leaving Catholic school to go to public middle school and entering the dreaded adolescent years. I experienced this almost immediate sense of loss. She went from working as a crossing guard in town, walking the track almost daily and doing everyday “mom” things with us, to falling several times a day and needing a cane to get around the house. The cane quickly became a walker and the wheelchair a necessity when we went anywhere out of the house. This became our norm and we learned to adjust to this new life with a parent battling a chronic illness. As hard it was for my younger brother and I to adjust to all of this and “lose”, in a sense, the mom we had known for our early years, it must have been exponentially harder for her to adapt to being a mother to us in this new body. A body that would fail her time and time again and I’m sure, make her want to sometimes give up.
As a child, I remember some of the moments that were scary and jarring. Like the night she fell hard at Fenway on our way to a game and we quickly had to get medical attention in the park. I remember being so worried and being a teenager, also embarrassed at all the attention. But it was during these moments, despite her own pain, she was able to remain calm and somehow put us at ease. She always cared more about our emotional well-being than her own, even though I’m sure she was dealing with so many daunting feelings. My mom wasn’t one to dwell on her pain or sadness, she would cry and pick herself back up. She had great faith and prayed religiously every night with her rosaries in hand. In those prayers, I am almost certain she ‘gave it all to God’ and truly believed the suffering was for a purpose and it would all work out as it should. In doing so, we grew up being raised by someone who wouldn’t allow her disease to take away her ability to be an amazing mom. As soon as I could drive, we would do all the things a mom and daughter would do together. It may have looked a bit different to others because in some ways I was taking on many of the physical responsibilities of the adult. But for me, it was always a blessing to have that special time with her. I remember feeling like I was the luckiest girl in the world next to such a warrior that I could call mom. Those were the moments I remember with a smile, and sometimes a good cry, today.
Something I always really admired about my mom is that despite her physical limitations, she loved to look fabulous. As you can tell from this blog photo, she had a great sense of style and loved to accessorize. My parents almost always had a Saturday date night and I would help my mom get herself ready. She always picked out her jewelry first, which at the time I found odd but now I find myself often doing the same (if you’ve followed my instagram you know I strongly believe you can build a great outfit starting with the accessories alone ☺). Her hand dexterity was affected by the MS so I would need to put on all the jewelry she picked out. We would lay out her outfits and sometimes there would be a few not so easy outfit changes before we found the exact right combo. Man did I love helping her feel good in whatever she wore! I was always assured it would bring that beautiful smile to her face and, just maybe, help her forget about the body that wasn’t serving her the way it should.
My mom was always a light in the dark moments and made a conscious choice to encourage us all look on the brighter side. She was and still is my biggest inspiration, or ‘momspiration’ if you will. This blog will forever be devoted to her and I hope she smiles down on my passion in sharing fashion and lifestyle bits with other moms. Mary would absolutely tell you to ‘buy the bag’ and ‘forget the laundry, get your nails done!’… because life is too dang precious and sometimes short not to.
I love you forever mom.