A letter to my Irish mother

Dear Mom:

Today we would have celebrated your 85th birthday and perhaps as many as 10 more if you had not been misled by your surgeon. As much as I am sorry for the unnecessary suffering you had to endure for the remaining nine months of your life, I am glad that I was able to help care for you and come to appreciate how much you always cared for me.

I remember one time just after your second surgery when we were visiting you and Pat kiddingly said “gee, Mom, the things you will do to get your kids to visit you.” You smiled after she said that, but I walked away feeling sad that there were times I avoided you because I did not want to share your company. I am sorry Mom for all the times we argued and the many times when I should have just said, ‘I’m sorry, I love you.’

It bothers me to remember that we did not speak for the five months leading up to your surgery and that had I continued to visit you prior to that day, I may have been able to help you see all the risks involved in such a procedure. I cried very hard in the waiting room that day because all I could think of was that you decided your children no longer loved you and that there was no need to share the facts about your upcoming surgery.

Still in all, you endured a great deal of suffering and never once indicated you wanted to give up in the face of extreme adversity. You fought the good fight and taught me that no matter how hard things get, we must never give up hope because without hope, there is only despair. You often found the ability to smile during your tribulation and you always encouraged me to do the same so as to not take myself too seriously. Nothing is ever that bad and certainly not worth taking your life for. I remember a favorite quote of yours stated by Rose Kennedy “I’ll never be vanquished.”

Mom I want you to know that no man could have had a better mother than you. You, too, have taught me what is necessary to adhere to the principles of the faith and at the same time demonstrated (by example) what it is to maintain a strong and upstanding character even in the face of extreme suffering. I think about you every day and am preparing myself for the day when you and I will be permanently reunited. Still, my heart aches with sadness every day that you are not here because one of the very few people who truly cared about me is gone.

I love you Mom and I am sorry for all the times I caused you grief and anxiety like the times when you would ask me to do things around the house and I would complain like some lazy brat. The list of “jobs” was never that demanding, and I should have jumped at the opportunity to help around the house. I am sorry for any contempt that I may have had for you, especially at times when you were trying to help me – like the time you were trying to convince me not to take my own life, and all I responded with was blame and rage. Before I hung up the phone, I remember Dad saying to me “Mom loves you dearly.” I am also sorry for not hugging you when you first received the news that you had colon cancer. I should have embraced you lovingly but instead, you had to endure the news alone. Just as with my letter to Dad, there are so many other things that I am sorry for but either I cannot remember all of them or it is getting too difficult to type while I weep.

There are some things I would like to thank you for, as well. First and foremost, for being my mom who always looked out for me and, if I needed something, would spend extra money to make sure it was the best thing possible. I remember when I used to work the closing shift at McDonald’s and sometimes you would come to see where I was because you were afraid I would ruin my life by getting some girl pregnant. I remember feeling embarrassed that my mother would come looking for me, but the janitor told me that some guys don’t have a mother who cares enough to look out for them.

Thank you too for staying in a marriage that had been difficult for you and Dad. A former professor of mine once said to the class that anybody who can survive marriage {especially after 50 years} ought to be canonized. You both have done very well in upholding your vow before God. You both have also done very well in raising us the best way you could, as there has yet to be a perfect way of raising children. I have come to realize that there comes a point when each of us (supported by our family) needs to take responsibility for our lives and play the cards we are dealt.

Thank you for supporting me the best way you knew how. Thank you for feeding, clothing and sheltering me, especially the times you came home from work and had to manage a house full of kids, many times without Dad’s help. I have your wedding picture in front of me and am always struck by how beautiful and gracious you are. Well, the Kleenex box is about empty, and my eyes are not drying, so perhaps it would be wise to end this letter. Always remember, Mom, that I love you very much and miss you even more.

As JFK said about his mother, you are and always will be my wild Irish Rose.

Love, Joe (your half-Irish son)

Author’s note: Eileen (Moran) Bialek passed away Jan. 8, 2002.

Joe Bialek, Cleveland, Ohio

By martha

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