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A woman exceptional.

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When I think of my mother, my mama, my friend- thousands of memories and emotions come rushing to the forefront of my mind. A woman exceptional, the stream of her presence is almost unbreakable and her place in many a history so strong it’s almost as if she’s sitting next to me. Those memories- they play like an old film reel, fleeting and sometimes grainy, sometimes highly defined- on a soft loop as I stare at the wall like a cat with nothing to do.

I envision her buckling my white Saltwater Sandals before I would trot off carefully, Popsicle in hand.

Telling me about important things as a little girl, as I sat on the kitchen counter eating a bagel wearing an oversized tye-dyed pink men’s tee shirt stretched around my knees.

Reading my sister and me stories in her unparalleled style of animated voices and enthralling prose.

Screaming at me in frustration and motherly anguish from downstairs as I hurled back insults as a teenager.

Holding me as I sobbed uncontrollably when I dropped her off at the Phnom Penh airport when she was moving back to the states.

Her laughter as we walked along the quiet lanes beside Loch Ness, kicking at weeds and shivering from the chilled, Scottish air.

The nervous giddiness that radiated from her moments before we walked out the door to the chapel for her wedding.

The commanding yet gentle presence she drapes around her shoulders each time she walks into a room.

Tasting meals that as a child I balked at when I took them to school the next day: Greek kofta, Thai curries, Indian lentils, Italian Cioppino, and every type of pie under the sun- all from scratch.

Her crawling into my lap at a therapy session, telling me that she’s proud of me: both healed from chapters in our story that at one point scarred us.

The patient, unselfish act of holding my hair back the night my dad- her late husband- died when I was throwing up from gut wrenching sadness outside of a restaurant in the outskirts of Portland.

Her terrifying lividness when she caught a boyfriend hiding under my bed when I was sixteen.

Hearing her resonating laugh from across the room, any room, and feeling comforted knowing she is there.

Worrying slightly about her as she embarked on a cross country road trip this past year, alone and with the gumption of a great explorer.

Listening to my dad and her talking in the kitchen about their work days, America or Mozart playing in the background.

Adoring her as she set of blind whiskey taste tests for my friends and me in Cambodia, tapping fully into our literal and social tastes.

The disappointment I felt like a cold front from her when I would, yet again, get into trouble as a adolescent.

The dozens of princess dresses she sewed herself so that no other six year old princess would have the one-of-a-kind sparkly pink couture I donned, ensuring my place on the throne.

The scent of her lavender bath salts, wafting through her bedroom after a long day of work.

And most recently, looking at the back of her gorgeously salt and peppered hair as she sat on the rocks by the sea, peacefully with her beloved by her side and the glimmering sun setting against milky blue waters.

My mother is borne of something great and otherworldly, she is a force to be reckoned with and her life a testament to a deep, resounding love. Any daughter may say this about their mother, but I demand that she be known as beyond the norm. The wonderful thing is? She could care less if anyone notices- as long as she is connected to those who truly value and cherish her heart and her mind and her soul. She continues to move forward in ways unexpected and delightful. She flourishes at every age, in every story.

A woman exceptional indeed.

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