It's New Year's Eve, and while everyone else is looking forward, I'm looking back. You see, I lost my Mom ten years ago this Christmas night, and on New Year's eve, I watched as they put her in the ground. Ten long years that seem not so long right now.
Ten years that watched her toddler grandaughter turn into a willowy, beautiful pre-teen wearing stylish clothes on a body I didn't have until high school. Ten years that heralded in the birth of a grandson she would never have the joy of meeting, let alone the time to listen to me babble about the both of them. More than anything, I'm sorry she missed them both. Sorry for her, sorry for me, and sorry for them.
My Dad has been visiting, so if I've been a bit scarce you'll have to forgive me. I see him and his thinning, white hair and his slowing steps and know that his previously triple-bypassed heart has only so many beats left in it, so I've been spending a lot more time offline and living life in real-time this holiday.
I've been sitting on the couch watching movies only to find his hand reaching for mine, and I think how wonderful it feels to be holding my daddy's hand again, after all these years. We've gone out to dinner and laughed over wildly inappropriate things, things that would certainly make my mother shake her head and give a disapproving tsk tsk to. It didn't matter - we felt her there, anyway.
I have a good friend who's adopted, and I asked her once if she was interested in finding her birth parents. She confessed to a mild curiosity. When I asked her if she wondered what traits she'd inherited from them, her response was a simple no. "I got all the important stuff from the parents who raised me," she said. "I got my sense of humor and my love of the outdoors from my Dad, and my Mom taught me how to look at the good side of everything. They both taught me responsibility and honesty and kindness and everything I really need. I doesn't matter much who I got the shape of my nose from, in comparison."
She's right, of course. Anyone can donate to your gene pool. But the things that really make you who you are start with the people who raised you, and if they do their jobs right, they build the foundation you build on until you're the person you're meant to be.
I'm still a work in progress, and to some degree I always will be. But my Mom and my Dad gave me an awfully strong foundation that's seen me through some serious life-storms.
And I'll remember that as I look to the New Year - the tenth since my Mother left the earth, but never really left me.