In Memoriam: Anna Lois Smiley

My mother passed away on September 6th. I haven’t really talked about it on here yet because, well, I didn’t really know what to say. Even at this point, nearly three months on, I am having a hard time encapsulating in mere words what this loss means to me. Still, I’ll give it a go. My mother was never, ever at a loss for words, and even though most of those words were often inappropriate, tactless, and always humorous, they were there. Now, we find ourselves in the same place, uncommon ground for both of us. A place of no words.

Still, in keeping with her spirit, I’ll attempt to say a little something about her. God knows she talked about me enough.

My mother, for those of you who didn’t know her, was a force of nature. Despite a life filled with bouts of sickness and extended medical care, she was one of the most vibrant people I have ever known. She never fell into the trap that claims so many adults who believe change, of who and what you are, is for younger people. My mother constantly reinvented herself, constantly seeking to be a person we and, more importantly she, could be proud of. We watched her transform herself again and again until, at last, she seemed to finally be comfortable with who she was. For the first time in her life, she lived the life she wanted to, one of friends and family and God. My mother, in the last few years of her life, found a contentment she had never known.

To me, my mother was like gravity. I don’t see her in a lot of memories of my childhood–I was a rather independent kid–but, like that invisible gravity, she was there, exerting her force wherever I went. She was there at the awards ceremonies. She was there at the sporting events. She was there all the time to give that little push or that big shove to get me going. More importantly, she, like gravity, kept me grounded. Whenever my head got too big from the straight A’s or the diving catch at shortstop, she was right there to tell me I wasn’t as great as I thought I was, but never to say I wasn’t as great as she thought I was.

Ironically, my mother was partly to credit/blame for my wanting to become a writer. When I was younger, I found a memo pad in their closet (rummaging through there was like archeology without the dirt) and opened it up to find the beginnings, rough though they were, of a romance story. Just eight or nine pages. My mother was a HUGE romance fan and, she told me, always harbored aspirations of writing her own novel. As all parents hope their children’s accomplishments eclipse their own, I believe my mother was very proud of me for completing, if not publishing, the three novels I’ve written so far. Moreover, when I finally break into the ranks of the published, I will not be surprised if her hand is somehow cosmically involved.

So, Mom, wherever you are, I hope there are unlimited margaritas and buff, shirtless men in cowboy hats to serve them to you. Thank you for everything you did, for everything you said, and even for that little memo pad in your closet. It’s okay that you didn’t finish the novel. Sometimes, as I have learned, the story is just too hard to tell to the end.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s