Two days after she died I received a package from her in the mail. In it was a St. Christopher’s Medal. Inscribed on the back were the words:
I will always be in your heart
Her name was Leona Patricia Clark and she gave birth to me on October 2, 1953 in New York City’s Hell’s Kitchen. She was a single 20-year-old Catholic girl from Bridgeport, Connecticut. She had not been dealt an easy hand in life. Her mother died when she was three and a few weeks later, her father, an alcoholic, left the house early one morning and never returned, leaving my mother and her 12-year-old brother Frank on their own. Summoning up strength-of-spirit from God knows where, Frank put my mother on the back of his bicycle and peddled some 20 miles or so to an aunt and uncle’s house. There they were raised.
Seven days after I was born and against all her sweet heart wanted, my mother surrendered me for adoption.
We would not see each other again for nearly 34 years years. Not until I found her and we were reunited on January 8, 1987 in Stamford Connecticut. Over the years I would learn what I’d always known to be true; my mother was my emotional and spiritual familiar. She was my beginning, my heart and soul, the light that got me through my days of homelessness, the deep heart spiritual soil from which I was formed. There was, we both knew before and after we were reunited, a connection so deep and powerful between us it was a universe unto itself, untouchable and unfathomable by any but the two of us.
Now, when life strikes hard as it did today when the home we’d thought was ours fell from our grasp, I think of my mother and the tears flow and she is with me still and I miss her always now.