Today’s blog entry was written by Kathleen Corcoran, a local harpist, writer, editor, ESL teacher, luthier, favorite auntie, cookie maker, canine servant, and fortunate daughter of multiple mothers.
Tomorrow is my mom’s birthday, and she won’t be here to celebrate. Like many people, I was raised by a crowd of mother figures. My siblings and I only called two of them “mom.” One of them died last year.
Mom Cheryl and my biological mom were best friends since before I was born. Though they looked nothing alike, they called each other sister.
If anyone was fool enough to question their biology, my moms would reply, “She looks like momma; I take after daddy.”
They met when Mom Cheryl was directing a summer day program at the playground near my house. Biological Mom was a health and PE teacher at a local girls’ high school. As extremely intelligent, exceptionally tall women more interested in sports than makeup, they sort of inevitably became friends.
One played field hockey and watched football; the other played rugby and watched basketball. Both were the loudest cheerleaders for whatever activity my siblings and I did.
My two moms did everything together. They cooked together, handing spoons and spices back and forth without looking, like relay racers with a baton. They maintained order on a field of fifty excited kids with their finely-tuned gym teacher voices.
They were always together for holidays, birthdays, vacations, and funerals. My biological mother’s extended family eventually included Mom Cheryl automatically when planning weddings or baptisms.
Whenever Mom Cheryl was cooking, we all knew to be careful. Instead of following a recipe, Mom Cheryl added whatever looked good at the time. Her end results were always very tasty, but she liked things hot!
My siblings were not the only beneficiaries of Mom Cheryl’s bottomless well of love. Everyone in the neighborhood knew that “Miz Cheryl” could always help with science homework, jump shots, sewing, giving insulin shots, and haircuts.
It was universally agreed that Miz Cheryl’s hugs were the best hugs.
During a hurricane, she climbed out the window of a flooded bus to rescue a nearby driver. Mom Cheryl pulled the lady out the window of her car and lifted her up into the bus just before the woman’s car was swept away.
One of the things I miss the most about Mom Cheryl is the way we could sit and be quiet together. When a chaotic family dinner or crowded wedding party was too overwhelming, Mom Cheryl would step out for a smoke break. Eventually, I noticed that she never actually lit her cigarettes, just held one in her hand so no one would question her. She was a bad influence: I started joining her to “smoke” when I was about twelve.
But then the whole world stopped making sense and Mom Cheryl was gone. This wonderful lady, this pioneer for women’s sports, this unstoppable Amazon of hugs and quiet spaces won’t be here to celebrate her birthday tomorrow.
When Mom Cheryl died, her dog Ladybug came to live with me. Maybe tomorrow we’ll have a beer and a steak in our absent mom’s memory.