Wednesday, March 07, 2007

My Daughter, Gina

A good daughter is like a good piece of writing:

Candid, lyrical, graceful, moving, alive.

I have seen a young girl walk across a room,

intent on her intense errand, and it was like seeing

a voice become visible, as if not her tongue but her

motion said, “I will do this for my life.”

Paul Engle

Seems like yesterday, she blew butterfly kisses to me through the school bus window on her way to her first day of kindergarten.
Letting go.

Senior year of high school. So young…

Always stuck to her Mom like glue, I never imagined during her first seventeen years that I was raising one heck of an independent girl. The first time the realization hit me that she was very ready to fly away was the day she boarded her first solo flight to a university, three states away, to meet the swim coach and spend the weekend with the team. I worked at the high school Gina attended. My palms were sweating the morning she left and I told the guidance counselor, who knew Gina well, how nervous I was and she replied, “Why are you biting your nails, Mary? Gina’s fine. She’s independent. You raised her that way.” I had no idea. Gina had a wonderful time during that trip and came back invigorated. Watching her board Amtrak to New Jersey for another university tour with the team nearly tore my heart out. I felt as though I’d have an out of body experience, lunging for that train with superhuman strength to hold it and her back.
Letting go.

After her high school graduation in 2000, we helped her unpack and settle into her dorm at UNC Wilmington, and in the back of my mind I always thought she’d come back home after graduation. But four years later she graduated and never came back home to live. Even if we were still living in Maryland (her true hometown) by the time she graduated from the university, I don’t think she would have returned home. Loving the beach and the college/resort town of Wilmington, Gina made it her home.
Accepting and letting go.

Having been fashioned from me, all you do –

despite your freedom –

must affect me too.

And so when we’re apart

I will always long for news from you.

Maya V. Patel

Being the sappy and sentimental Mom I am, Gina’s bedroom at our house today looks pretty much the same as it did on the day she left nearly seven years ago. We moved “her stuff” from Maryland to Delaware to North Carolina, and each time we settled in, we set up “her stuff” just the way she liked it. But I uncluttered it a bit…

Her intended major was in Marine Biology and she made that decision on the day she saw the movie “Free Willy” in middle school. Our efforts to change her mind were fruitless, of course. That major became too difficult while swimming in a Division I school, so she graduated with an Environmental degree. Job prospects for her were scarce in Wilmington so she lived near poverty level as a teacher assistant in the county school system for two school years. She traveled some rough roads along the way but she learned the high value of a “few” dollars and took good care of herself. She also knew that Mom and Dad wouldn’t let her starve!


Gina and her boyfriend Billy are living in Charlotte now! We hosted them for two months last summer while they settled in and looked for employment and an apartment. It was a pleasure having them but not during every minute of that time, though! I can’t help it if I cringe at water marks on the kitchen counter, empty drinking glasses, sets of keys and handbags left here and there, piles of laundry, etc. and the list goes on. I know I annoyed the heck out of them, too. But we made it.

During those two months, she interviewed with five companies in uptown Charlotte and received three offers. It was a heaven-sent confidence boost for her. Grace from God. Billy is a second-year electrician apprentice and found work immediately. As a former Marine with time spent in Iraq in the spring of 2003, he knows how to work hard and he’s excellently skilled. His future is very bright.

One of Gina’s most outstanding qualities is that she learns anything as fast as a finger snap, especially in the technical/scientific world (unlike her mother). She’s prospering. Lately, she’s been learning about real estate! After her moving seven times in seven years, I think it’s the right time for her to buy her own house and grow roots. We'll all grow new roots together. Things are looking up!

I’m so proud of her.


The flash reflection from the camera looks like stardust. I like it.
You go, Bean!
(and don't be mad at me for showing pictures)


dmmgmfm said...

What a wonderful tribute to your beautiful daughter. You've done a wonderful job raising her, of that I am certain. Am I surprised that she's an independant, successful woman? Not at mother, like daughter.

Cathy said...

Mary! She's gorgeous, talented and so lucky to be close to her mom. Those lines about wanting to pull her back to you as she set off on trips . . how that resonated. But it all works out in the end. Thank goodness our children's need to grow and be independent doesn't buckle under our mother hen concerns. I guess nature knew what she was doing when she gave youth the desire to explore. (Sorry I rambled on, but his post was great)

NatureWoman said...

Your daughter is sooooo beautiful Mary! And your tribute to her is beautiful, too! How wonderful to have her living close to you once again! I wish her the very best.

LauraHinNJ said...

Smart, independent, beautiful, and she has a great mom - she's set for life! Good for you both.

Susan Gets Native said...

Jeez, she's a triple threat, isn't she?
Beautiful, smart and independent?
Rock on, Gina!!!!

Anonymous said...

You can tell you are very proud of her! It is wonderful she is doing so well!

Lynne at Hasty Brook said...

What a wonderful young woman! You must be so proud of Gina.

Jayne said...

I could feel the love you have for Gina in your words, and the pride you feel is so wonderful. How great that you all are now in the same town and can again share that close bond of mother and daughter. My mom is my best friend too... there's nothing like it.

Ruth said...

Your daughter is lovely! and I hope she is not mad at you. My identical twin daughters have forbidden me to talk about them on my blog, so I just mention my youngest daughter. (I am mentioning them on your blog, not mine!) I understand your mother's pride.

KGMom said...

Mary--aren't we "ordinary" mothers lucky to have EXTRAORDINARY daughters.
I so resonate with the guidance counselor reminding you that "you raised her that way."
When I comment to friends about how much my daughter is fiery, spirited and independent, my friends say--well, what do you expect. . .
Of course, I expected all of the above AND staying close to home.
But we love them fiercely, wherever they are.
Thanks for introducing us to your lovely daughter.

Cuppa said...

What a beauty!

It does hurt when they tear away from us for the first time, but oh the joy to see them taking flight and making it on their own.

Unknown said...

Ahhhh! What a beautiful and strong girl you've raised! She sounds delightful! Good job, Mom!

Although, with an 8 year old and a 7 year old at home, the idea of sending them off into the world is terrifying! :) It's good for me to hear success stories like this to start grasping that this is possible and even probable in our world. We hear too much about the other side of things. Thanks for sharing some GOOD news!

Anonymous said...

What a terrific tribute to your beautiful daughter. It's no wonder she has turned out so sure did a terrific job of raising her. I envy that she is living in the same nice for your family! My daughter lives in Southern California..(big sigh). I miss her tremendously.

To answer your question from yesterday, I live in Bucks County, PA...southeastern PA. And our snow finally stopped. Thank you God amen!

Anonymous said...

My friend, what can I say...The apple doesn't fall far from the tree...and oh what a wonderful healthy tree you are! You are truly blessed.

Mary said...

Laurie, thanks. When you are a mother working outside of the home, you make your kids do for themselves. I felt bad about it a lot, but I guess it paid off.

Cathy, I'll never forget the agony of leaving her. She never knew how I felt though. I kept my chin up for her.

Pam, it's great after a six-year separation of 450 miles!

Laura, thanks for the compliments. I'll bet you were an independent young girl :)

Susan, she rocks. Wait until your two start spreading their wings... I'll bet they won't need any nudging.

Mon@rch, thanks. Those few years after graduation were rough.

Lynne, isn't every mother proud of their daughter(s)? Thanks, she's a cutie.

Jayne, it was hard being buddies with 450 miles between us. I'm glad she's nearby.

Ruth, I threw caution the wind and posted about her, against her will. Actually, she liked it! So give it a little shot with the twins :)

Donna, I agree, it's difficult when they are far from home. Sigh... But the reunions are fantastic!

Cuppa, thanks. When's that grandbaby due?

Liza, it's imaginable isn't it? When your children are young you think their leaving is in the far distant future. It (their leaving) creeps up on you fast and hit like a ton of bricks.

Dorothy, across the country... But like I mentioned above, the reunions are wonderful, aren't they? I lived in Central Delaware and remember listening to Action News with Monica Malpass and hearing a lot about Bucks Co. I heard it's snowing again (at least in Baltimore).

Jayne, I wish you had a daughter. She'd turn out to be a hell of a woman!

Mary said...

Jane, my last comment was meant for you. Sorry for the typo.

Jess Riley said...

Gina is beautiful! What a lovely tribute to her; it's so clear how much you love her and how proud you are of her. Simply wonderful.

Anonymous said...

Your best 'blog' yet, especially cause i watched gina grow and change, wonder where the years have gone? she looks so happy in all the pics, you did good Mary!!!

sonia a. mascaro said...

Love this beautiful tribute to your gorgeous daughter. Beautiful photos, too! Congratulations to you both!