Jacob Bergmeier | Westchester County New York Photographer who works in NY, CT, NJ and Travels

Mom’s MemorialApril 11, 2012

Mom, would you be proud of me?

14 years ago you left this world.  Not by choice… yours or mine.  The day cancer finally took your last breath was a pivotal moment in my life.  It was the day I was instantly a man stuck in a teenage body.  I was became “old” without the proper knowledge and wisdom to reinforce the situation I was now in.  Mom, I love you, but a 17 year old should never be asked by a doctor if it’s ok to take you off life support.   For a long time I carried a lot of guilt from that day and from that painful choice.  More guilt arose when I realized that I could have seen you the week before and choose not to, not knowing how sick you were.  Even more guilt arose from that day when Zack died.  The last 14 years have been about healing and learning from that day.  Life has been a journey…

You wanted so much for me… you wanted to do so much with me.  We talked about Europe and taking the train from country to country.  Spain, France, Germany, England, Ireland.  “How much money do we need, mom?” – “A lot – so we’ll save our pennies” you said.   You pushed me to be better and felt Saint Rose was the right place to get me there.  You taught me that home cooked meals will always be better than store bought or any restaurant.  We talked about what it means to truly respect a woman… to love her with every ounce of your heart and what that really means for both of you.  On more than one occasion you expressed concern about being a “good” parent.  It was tough being the child of divorced parents.  Two lives, two sets of rules.  You showed me that there is nothing (NOTHING) more important than family and that nothing gets in the way of that.

I traveled.  A lot.  4 continents and nearly 20 countries.   I have climbed mountains in Peru to nearly 17,000 feet.  I ate ceviche, rode a dune buggy, and saw the Nazca lines.  I experienced Peru!  I have ridden camels through the Sahara desert.  I baked bread in the hot sand, bartered for leather goods in the markets of Fes, and watched belly dancers perform during traditional Moroccan feast.  I experienced Morocco!  I drove a convertible through the Napa and Sonoma wine countries stopping at the best vineyards in California.  I visited Uncle Joe, drove down Lombard Street, and walked across the incredible Golden Gate Bridge.  I experienced San Francisco!  I sat in a cave and watched the Gypsies dance the Flamenco.   I botellón’d in the plazas, took Zack to my favorite cities and places when he came to visit me, and skied above the level of the clouds in the Sierra Morena mountains of Andulucía.  I experienced (lived in) Spain!  With my mighty strength, I held up the Leaning Tower of Pisa so it wouldn’t fall down.  I ate the best (and I mean the best) pizza margarita in Florence, rode a gondola in Venice, and sipped limoncello on the island of Capri.  I experienced Italy!  Mom, you encouraged me to travel and I did… it changed me for the better and I can’t thank you enough for that!

You took me to the College of Saint Rose for an interview shortly before you died.  I told the admissions counselor everything I had done, experienced, and even about you.  Before I left the admissions counselor told me that he was proud of my journey, that I had been accepted, and that I should be expecting a formal letter in the mail any time soon.  Soon I found a professor who believed in me, supported me, and looked out for me for four years.  She guided me to Spain and shared my experiences with her classes.  I participated in Division 2 athletics on the Cross Country team and was a conference runner-up… twice.  I found friends who I hold dear to my heart to this day… and even the woman I would ask to be my wife.  Saint Rose changed my life for the better as you told me it would.  I can’t thank you enough for that!

More than 14 years later and I can still taste your homemade chicken lasagna.  Pasta made from scratch with your Kitchen Aid mixer (which I still have and use), sauce from tomatoes and basil that you grew in the garden, and cheese from local farmers.  You made the best dumplings, muffins, and fresh coffee.  The kitchen is my favorite place to be in the house.  Learning to cook methodically but adventurously, I have learned to enjoy foods from all over the world.   You gave me the love to cook bug and I can’t thank you enough for that!

10 years ago (tomorrow to the day), Diana and I officially became a couple.  We became a couple during a trip home from college… we visited with you at your grave. She simply sat next to me as I pondered in my thoughts, gently holding my hand while placing her head on my shoulder.  She played with a 6 year old Creszenz as though she were her older sister, never holding back.   She embraced our family and all of our quirks without judgement.   Soon my girlfriend became my best friend who, 3 and-a-half  years later became my fiancée, and another year-and-a-half later became my wife.  I cherish Diana… every moment, every experience, every strife and accomplishment.  I love the way she dives into something she feels is important and does endless research on it so she can completely understand it…  I love everything about her and our lives together.  I love the family I married into and the family we have become together.  You set me up for this kind of compassionate and respectful love for a woman from those talks we had, and I can’t  thank you enough for that!

Every experience you and I had together coupled with all of my experiences that I have had since you died have prepared me for my life now, 14 years later.  I truly believe it has prepared me for my life as a father to a daughter.  To Lillian Jane.  I carried that terrible guilt with me that I didn’t see you the weekend before you died… I was selfish when you asked if I was coming for the weekend. I said no because I wanted  to (would rather) be with my girlfriend who was leaving for a week of vacation. For a long time I was angry that you didn’t tell me you were that sick.  Mom, nothing would have stopped me from seeing you had I known you were THAT sick.  But then I became a father… it all clicked and the guilt melted away.  It was 3:45 am and I miserably got out of bed beyond exhausted to change a wet diaper.  She was 2 months old when I realized what you had done for me.  I stood there looking at her… loving her.  In that exact moment I completely understood what unconditional love is and what it means.  There is nothing I would not do for that little girl and there is so much I want to show her, teach her, and give her.  That is what you gave me.  You gave me a foundation and a direction… and I ran with it.  AND I CAN’T THANK YOU ENOUGH FOR THAT!

So mom I ask you, would you be proud of me?

  1. ABSOLUTELY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I too am proud of the man you are, the husband you are and the father you are – and, of course, the son-in-law you are.

    With Love,
    Peg

  2. YES, she most definitely would be proud. I’m proud of you too. You are quite the loving man your mother raised right.

  3. wow. XO

  4. Jake, your Mother would be so proud of you, more thank you could ever imagine. From what I can see you are a wonderful Husband and Father and friend. Your Father and Step Mother are proud of you too.

  5. I finished this post with eyes full of tears blurring your words on my screen. I’m sure your mother has been proud of you every single step of the way.

  6. Absolutely, Jake. I have no doubt in my mind that she would be so proud of the man you’ve become. Thank you for sharing this with us.

  7. Every ounce of love you feel, each time you hold or look at or even think about Lillian or Diana, is a perfect reflection of the love and pride your mother had for you and your brother. She was and is proud of the man you have become, and so are we. We love you Jake!

  8. This is beautiful Jake, thank you for sharing.

  9. There is not a doubt in my mind that your mother would be proud of you! You have had adventures that many people only dream of doing and give everything 110%

  10. touching and well written, I am proud to have experienced some of that travel bug along with you, viva peru. you have a beautiful family and are a solid person. lots to be thankful for and proud of. :) come visit my beach house in honduras with diana when you get the abuelos to watch the baby for a week

  11. Jake, you are such an amazing person… and I just know your mom is beaming (and is with you in spirit always). You have been through so much… and to be the man you’ve become… is just a testament to the incredible job your mom had done in raising you.

  12. Truly touching Jake, your mother would be so proud of you. Your character and your heart are values that you never compromise. I’m thankful that we were roommates and close friends in college as you taught me a lot about the man I wanted to be by never compromising those values. I’m proud to be your friend and to walked with you in our journey through college. I miss you and love you man.

    -David

  13. Jake their is no doubt anywhere, how very proud your mom would be so very proud of you..
    We all are..And you will continue to do so much more..You are a wonderful man and we too are proud of
    you and love you.
    Uncle John and Aunt Rhonda

  14. Jacob,
    Everytime I see your posts and your adventures with Lillian I think of how I’d love to be able to share them with your Mom. As a grandmother of 5 (as of last week) I know we would have shared tales of the babies as we did when you and Zack were little. Your Mom loved adventure and would be very proud of your accomplishments. I know she’d be happy you like to cook, as she did. You have a beautiful family and a bright future. So sorry you have had so many loses in your young life, but enjoy the memories and the adventures to come!! I miss your mom very much, too!!!

  15. Life is work and every day we wake up, there are new challenges for us. Some difficult, some where we can find no words, only consternation. I admire your fortitude and the consistent way you create your life together with Diana. You always believe in love and the good things who happens. I´m sure your mother would burst with pride. Thank you for sharing your deep thoughts and feelings, I show you my full respect!

  16. Proud, happy, excited, you name it. The life you have made is the most honest and profound memorial you could possibly have given her.

  17. Your mom would be so proud…. All she taught you and all you’ve become absolutely shines in this piece!
    I grew up in a house several doors down from all the Glennon Gang and was close in age to Liz and Joe. We were a big, crazy group of neighborhood pals, and I still consider the neighborhood kids I grew up with to be my brothers and sisters, too. Your mom was always a lot of fun and an we both loved to knit. I spent lots of time in her knitting shop at the Granville Depot, mostly just to visit with her and catch up on the latest!
    Jacob, Liz and I were so excited when you were born and we played with you when you learned to crawl and then to walk! You amazed us with all you could do that was new each time we saw you. It’s been a long time since I have seen you, and you still amaze! I have no doubt you mom would be so very proud!

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  1. […] the sting out of the memories that surround the death of a loved one. Over the years I have written meaningful blog posts about my mother, celebrated Mass (a friend even offered to go to Mass with me to support me), […]

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