But she was.
Mother never knew that she was loved.
But she was.
Mother did know the movies. That was how my family celebrated holidays, we went to the movies.
Perhaps they were an escape for a shy and awkward girl whose Daddy loved her dearly, and whose mother was, I believe, jealous. Mother spent her entire life longing for the approbation of her Mother that was lavished instead on her older brother. It created a deep ache in her soul that nothing could soothe, not even the love of an adoring husband.
When my uncle died, Grandmother mourned for him as if he had been her only child. Mom mourned the death of her father, then her brother, and finally, the prospect of ever knowing the love of her own mother.
Perhaps it was this deep longing that made her more accessible for others in pain. I tried to avoid going grocery shopping with her, because, sooner or later, someone would meet us in an aisle, and, sensing sanctuary in a stranger, begin unburdening their grief.
There between the tomatoes and the lettuces they let down their stories of disappointment, anger, sadness as Mom listened attentively, compassionately, and I squirmed.
With older eyes I look back on those moments and see wonder, beauty, and sacrament. The love and compassion Mom longed for from Grandmother was poured out with abandon on common stranger. She gave unselfishly what she desired to receive, and blessed many.
This small, insecure woman of sorrow was a giant of love. Deep inside, Mother was more beautiful than any of her favorite film stars. And she touched just as many hearts.
In the produce aisle.