I remember it like it was yesterday, although it’s now been five years.
The day my beautiful 69-year-old mother Monica “Mona” Rico lost her bout with cancer.
It rocked our family to its core as she was the leader and inspiring love of each of our lives. She loved us uniquely and completely unconditionally.
This year, my reflections of my childhood did not bring tears, but smiles. My wife asked me why I was disconnected yesterday, and I apologized as I told her my thoughts were emphatically recollecting my Mom’s teachings. She smiled and let me have my time.
It was the first time my Mom’s anniversary date did not bring tears, but pure joy. It still hurts, but has become more manageable with time and the way I have decided to preserve her memory. After all, I am still telling her stories and jokes to the kids. My 4-year-old Monica, her namesake, talks about her as if she knows her completely, despite the fact that my mother passed just months before her birth. It may be a result of my journal that includes stories that I share with the children like good ol’ Uncle Remus in one of my favorite Disney classics. They just laugh and laugh and prefer the funny stories and jokes (many of which I can’t tell them until they are at least 18).
I tell them about the time “Momma” kept telling to throw the garbage out and I kept blowing her off, like a typical teen. That’s until I came home one day and found three disgustingly filled garbage bags in my bedroom.
I also tell them about the time I placed a fake mouse in a trap and nearly fell to the floor laughing when she found it. That is until the next day she so sweetly treated me to a Subway sandwich. I was starving and tore about that sandwich like I hadn’t eaten for days. And when I did, to my shocking surprise, the same mouse I had gotten her with fell out of my meal and I literally fell to the floor.
I thought about the countless times, I Scotch-taped the faucet so when she turned it on the sprayer would douse her tops. I also thought about the times she would bring up a freshly folded pile of laundered clothes and I would sneak behind her and tackle her on the couch or beds just for her to start completely over.
I also think about the times she would throw over a freezing pale of water when I was in the middle of taking a hot shower. That was her crazy way of letting me know I’ve been in there too long and save some hot water for others.
Now that I think about it, I was much like Uncle Remus’ favorite subject-Brer Rabbit. Just like him, I’d get myself into and out of trouble.
But my Mom always had a smile on her face and admitted that I got her good. But unfortunately, my Mom got me back even more emphatically. She was the sweetest, kindest and funniest gal I ever knew. I am very lucky to have those memories etched in my mind and inscribed in my heart.
As I cherish life the way she taught me, I realize her legacy will never be gone. It will live and flourish in my stories and memories.
Thank you, Mom. Like your Stevie Wonder sings, “I love you more today than yesterday.”
Damian Rico is the director of marketing and community relations for Hospice of the Calumet Area. The opinions are the writer's.