The Swan Picture from Moms
When my mom passed away and my siblings and nieces and nephews and children and I were talking about things that we wanted to keep of hers all I could think was that I wanted nothing more. I had so much already. She was such a big part of my life as well as my children’s, present for all of their minor and major events. She was my business partner. She was the one who bailed me out. It wasn’t too long ago that I realized she thought the same of me.
About a month before she passed away, I had stopped at her house to check in on her. She wasn’t there when I arrived. About 15 minutes after I arrived I saw her emerging from the garage door, cat carrier in hand with the cat inside the carrier. The weather was cold, sleeting and nasty. I could see she was crying. My mom, who had barely been able to rise from a reclining position lately selflessly and independently decided to take Meeshu, her cat, to the vet. The cat had a large cyst on her skin that was growing bigger and bigger. I opened the door for my mom and she collapsed in my arms. “Gina”. She said. “You always manage to be there when I need you the most.” (I was touched in the timing and delivery of that statement in a way that I hadn’t allowed for before). It turns out that the cat, too, had a terminal cancer. There was a shred of doubt that the vet was wrong though I watched as my mom amazingly turned that shred into hope during Meeshu’s final days. I am reminded of this as I stand at the sink washing the dishes in my house, glancing up at the swan painting that used to hang over her fireplace. At the time, I did not want this painting or anything else because I felt that I had enough. And the most important of it all was not possessional. It wasn’t until last month that my sister said “Do you want that swan picture from mom’s? I think it would be great in your house” that I knew I did. The picture is so much more than a picture to me. I often referenced my mother in terms of a swan. It was partially because of her love of them but mostly because how I interpret their presence and demeanor. In this picture, the fearless mother swan is carrying her baby on her back. Both look confident and at ease, moving forward, though the mother is clearly the navigator. The mother is patiently waiting for the baby to make her exit. The baby is contemplating, looking at the water, knowing though not just ready to take that leap. She finds comfort riding on her mother’s wing. I am relating to the picture. The memory and power that it brings to my heart and soul is apparent and parallel to my relationship with my mother. There is something different today when I look. I realize that now I am the mother. The one who is navigating the dark uncertain waters allowing my baby(s) to ride on my back. There is a confidence with that. Though she has lifted me, carried me, protected me, been the wind under my wings, she has also set me free. Her wind, now stronger in ways, letting me know that even though she is still there, it is now my turn to lead.