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Mother’s Day: A letter to my Irish mother

Sedona AZ – The following letter to Eileen Moran Bialek is published here by her son, Joseph Bialek:

Dear Mom,

Today we would have celebrated your eighty-fifth birthday, and perhaps as many as ten 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 everyday 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 fifty 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)
Eileen Moran Bialek passed away in 2002.

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2 Comments

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  2. Butch & Geri Jones says:

    Dear Editors, A relative sent us an article they’d saved when our first baby (now 42) was going to head for his first day of school. Its yellowed now but we’ve copied it dozens of times for family and friends and strangers that liked it on our kitchen cupboard door. After a Sedona friend printed out and sent this letter (Butch had an Irish grandma), I found your site to share this old clipping. God bless.

    [I walked my daughter to her first day of school dressed all in pink and white and a pretty bow in her hair and she held my hand tightly with lots of excitement and enthusiasm for the prospect of being a bigger little girl now than her sisters. She giggled and picked little wildflowers to give her new teacher, dropping more than keeping. When we saw the bigger children pouring out of busses and calling to friends and waving goodbye to mommies and daddies, she tugged at my hand to look closer. At the school steps, she suddenly stopped pulling forward and wrapped her little arms around me tightly never to let go. Looking up with tears, she whispered “Mommy what if nobody likes me?” and I suddenly heard my mother’s words to me many times over and on my first day of school and I smiled and said, “Always treat everybody the way you like being treated, always wear your beautiful smile and friends will find you” and with great trepidation she unwrapped herself, and for a very long minute clutched my hand before moving forward, then came a tiny wave from her classroom door as the welcoming teacher took her to a desk. I cried the whole way home just as my mother told me she had done and on her baby’s first birthday, I shared this written memory keepsake with her. She looked at me with tears in her eyes and said, “I remember Mommy and I never forgot.” That was my favorite gift from her to this day.]

    Memorize these words and repeat daily to every child you meet, “Smile, do unto others as you would have them do unto you, and loving family and friends will always find you. Butch & Geri Jones (Massachusetts, friends in Sedona)

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