In memory of my mother, Arlene Miller (August 24, 1924-May 10, 2005) by Tracy Diane Miller

How could a person have so much sadness in her life always give so much happiness?

That was my mother. She wasn’t the kind of person who spent her days being miserable about what she lost or lived her life complaining. She didn’t wallow in regret. Instead, she appreciated what she had and acknowledged her blessings.

Arlene Miller was the product of a bygone era.

For the little girl who was born in rural Virginia in 1924, she had some big dreams that went unrealized. My mother loved to sing. She had a beautiful soprano voice. I remember that she told me that she once wanted to become an opera singer. Sadly, she didn’t have the confidence in her talent to take the chance to pursue her dream. I’m sure she had regret about that, but she never showed it. There was no bitterness about what might have been, just appreciation of what was.

And what was: Her children.

I never had any doubt that she loved us because she said it and showed it on a daily basis. She didn’t have the financial resources so our childhood wasn’t about material things. We didn’t do family vacations. Going to Disney World wasn’t something we would ever experience as children. But she made trips to the zoo or the park seem almost magical. For the latter, my mother would pack a picnic basket. We would spend hours talking and laughing. She would listen, really listen to us. She was our friend. Yet, she maintained the line of parental respect that we knew not to cross.

She loved books. I remember that when she wasn’t reading with us at home, she took us to the library. The recreation center in our Philadelphia inner city neighborhood was questionable at best so we didn’t participate in summer activities. She couldn’t afford to send us to a summer camp. So, we spent our summers with our mother who used her imagination to create memorable activities for us. Those were the happiest summers.

Even watching the yearly airing of The Wizard of Oz on television became a big deal. We had a small black and white television so we couldn’t really appreciate the distinction between Kansas and Oz. Kansas was dull black and white while Oz was bright black and white. The ruby slippers on our television were bright black shoes. But that didn’t matter. My mother would spend the day making a lot food. She even bought small gifts for us. Watching The Wizard of Oz was our yearly party tradition.

She loved celebrating our birthday. Having twins whose birthdays were July 4th was Fate’s doing, but my mom made sure to let us know that the day would be emphasized more as our birthday than as the national holiday that it was. She would begin the week with the “birthday countdown” telling everyone who asked (and probably more than a few people who could care less) that our birthday was in a week. Each day that passed to approaching birthday became an important part of the countdown. We were excited because my mother made it exciting.

It is tricky having twins. My mother emphasized that our ‘twinship” was special; we began our lives as “wombmates” ; we would always be a team. Yet, we were individuals. My mother made sure that she baked us separate birthday cakes. So while in school, kids often called us Stacy and the other one or Stacy and whatever (yes, I was the “other one” and the “whatever” in the equation), we were Stacy and Tracy to our mother. She recognized Stacy’s painful shyness (yes, folks. Stacy was once extremely shy. Hard to believe, right?) and our mother recognized that I was the talker and somewhat weird and deep thinking child. When I told her at eight years old that I wanted to be a Poet Laureate, my mother encouraged my poetic talent and aspirations.

I never did become a Poet Laureate. But I write poetry on a daily basis and will be publishing my first poetry book this year.  My mother would love that.

My mother would love that Stacy is a writer, too. She would love reading our work in The Nerdy Girl Express and be happy for us that we have so much love and enjoyment writing for this online publication.

My mother would love that I can use my lifelong enjoyment of books to write book reviews and to interview authors.

My mother would love that I write poetry to comfort and heal myself as well as to offer comfort to others.

The best parts of me, I inherited from my mother.

Today is May 10th. I can’t believe that my mother has been gone for eleven years.

Arlene Miller was the product of a bygone era.

She may be physically gone. But she is always present in my heart. My heart will never say goodbye.