By Lisa Marie Brodsky
Dedicated to my mother, Sheila (1954-2006) and Aislyn, Gabrielle, and Atrus – most definitely, my kids
I didn’t notice until it was already happening: such a simple gesture which had such monumental meaning. She had no idea what it meant to me and I don’t know if she ever will. Perhaps if she ever experiences a huge loss she can understand. Today, though, she is eight years old and she merely fingers my bracelet, the one I’ve worn for years.
It is not a fancy bracelet; it doesn’t sparkle or catch a jeweler’s eye, but it is so simple in its beauty that I get generous comments: “Oh, what a beautiful bracelet,” someone will say. “Is that tiger eye?”
And I answer, “It was my mother’s.”
Besides her wedding band, this is the only piece of my mother’s jewelry I own. I wear it every day; I never take it off. My three stepchildren look at me, their mother-figure for the past three years, and they don’t see my much-missed mother who passed away two years before I met them. No matter how much of a lost child I may feel like inside, they see an adult mother-figure and I just hope that they love me half as much as I loved my mother.
A stepmother’s role can be very confusing. Do you step in or let Dad take care of it? If “Mom” is in the picture, how much mothering do you do for the children? In my case, we find ourselves having to unparent a lot of damaged parenting that went on. There are fights, crying, yelling, struggle, but the thing I try to remember is this:
There are moments like that above, where my 8-year-old girl (yes, I call her my girl) lovingly touches and discovers my mother’s bracelet. She sits on my lap and snuggles close. I can smell the fruity shampoo scent wafting from her hair. I kiss her on the top of her head and watch her intently investigate this bracelet – so nondescript and ordinary, yet something intrigues her. What is it? I wonder. Can she sense the generations behind this bracelet? Can she sense the love that my mother had for me and the love I had for my mother? I imagine she does.
I feel comforted imaging that.
So on days when kids cry and scream and we yell and grunt, I picture again and again my kids touching generations of love wrapped around my wrist. I imagine my mother touching her grandchildren, never meeting them in the flesh, but definitely, most definitely, loving them through me.
Born in Chicago, Lisa Marie Brodsky is a published poet with several books of published poetry and one about her mother’s death forthcoming from Salmon Publishing. Her poetry, fiction, and non-fiction, always focusing on the semi-autobiographical, has been nationally and internationally recognized and published. She received her B.A. in Creative Writing from Loyola University of Chicago and her M.F.A. in Poetry from University of Wisconsin-Madison. Lisa forgetfully blogs at http://memoryspeaksintongues.blogspot.com, but you can also find her a bit more regularly at her faith blog, http://dovechronicles.blogspot.com. Lisa is the Wisconsin Director of the Alzheimer’s Poetry Project (http://alzpoetry.com) and works as a Job Coach for disabled adults, a true honor. In 2009, she married and became an insta-Mom to three stepchildren, ages 13, 8, and 5. She and her family live in Evansville, Wisconsin, the first small-town Lisa has ever lived in. The holiday parades down Main Street amaze her.
Check out more Fourth Monday action with flash fiction by Jillian Kuhlmann in Roadside Attractions and original music by The Kate Morrissey Band, now playing on the Music Stage. Also, remember to keep updated on all Fourth Monday activity by subscribing to V’s Place or submit your own work to email@example.com.