Decades ago she took me for my first haircut, taught me how to ride a bicycle, and dragged my ass kicking and screaming into that YMCA boys locker room. “Everyone needs to know how to swim,” she loudly exclaimed every Saturday morning, her Irish brogue on display for all to hear.
She played perhaps the most important role that an adult can, that of raising a child on their own. Twice the work, never complaining, but also never for a minute pretending that it was easy.
Boyhood memories as fresh today as they were back then. Her running a tab at the corner grocery store, and babysitting others’ children to help ends meet, demonstrating the quality of persistence, and the value and dignity of work.
No, ours was not a “broken” home, but a tempered one, always prepared for the occasional stumbles and inevitable landslides which each of us would eventually encounter, and the effort needed to climb out from under.
I thank her for many things, but mostly this preparation and realization that success — not to mention survival — would depend on such awareness and effort.