I went to a funeral today. It was for my second mom.
Nope, I’m not a child of divorce. And no, my mom didn’t die and my dad remarried.
This was a chosen second mom. One that helped raise me. She was my mom by choice.
We can’t choose our families – and I have lovely parents, by the way. We can choose our friends, though, and oftentimes these friends’ parents become parents to us, as well.
I met Mary many years ago. My family had moved to a new house. I was only five. We’d come from an older neighborhood, where children had already moved off and the homeowners were empty nesters, some for decades. I was hungry for playmates, being an only child at the time.
My new neighborhood was truly new. Brand-new construction all around. My mom promised me there would be tons of kids to play with, and she was right.
I was drawn to Lu Anne out of all the girls on our block. She was a year younger than I was, and she was (and stayed) an only child. We played together well, kindred spirits who’d found one another. Soon I looked upon her parents as extensions of my own. I tried to stay on my best behavior at her house because I really wanted not only her – but her parents – to like me.
My mom had my sister soon after we moved there, and she was a colicky baby from the start. For nine long months, she cried. And cried. And then when she’d spent herself, she’d actually get her second wind and cry even more. Having enjoyed only-child status for close to six years, along with a peaceful house, this was a shock to my little kid system.
So I’d look both ways and walk across the street and get ready to knock at the door. I usually didn’t get the chance to do so because Mary would have seen me coming and opened the door to greet me.
“She crying again?” I’d nod. “Come on in.”
My sister finally conquered colic (or probably just outgrew it), but my brother arrived on the scene not long after that. So Mary took me in and gave me a place to hang out and feel comfortable.
Mary listened to me. Teased me. Fed me tuna fish sandwiches. Drove me to school every morning along with her daughter before heading on to work. I spent so much time over there, I’m surprised they weren’t allowed to claim me on their income tax.
Today we laid Mary to rest. She had an aneurysm years ago. I had a friend’s mom experience one when we were in college, and she’d passed instantly. That was the case with every aneurysm I’d ever heard about. Not with Mary. She fought it and came back and spent many active years with her health, enjoying life up till the very end – especially her new great-grandbaby.
So today is a sad day for me. I’m still lucky enough that I have my mom with me and hope I will for years to come.
But there’ll always be a place in my heart for my second mom. My other mom. My mom by choice. The one who took in a skinny kid with cat’s eye glasses and gave her love for many, many years.