I most clearly remember the sweet smell of her hair after she took a leisurely bubble bath on warm summer nights. My mother would take a rare repreive from her role as a full-time mother and relax in a warm, jasmin-scented bath, surrounded by the soft, classical notes of Bach and the glow from dozens of small, vanilla-scented votive candles. She'd emerge from her bath with a warm smile, renewed patience, and a sense of serenity that I envied, even in my childhood innocence.
As an only child, my relationship to my mom was always especially close. She had high expectations for her sensitive, athletic daughter, and urged me to excel, particularly in school and in gymnastics. I always suspected that she was seeking to fulfill her own dreams through me, having deferred her own professional goals to marry my father and become a doctor's wife. She never complained, but I occasionally sensed her disappointment when I failed to pursue an opportunity that she felt was right for me.
I knew that I was the second chance at a life that my mother never had. She always told me that I could accomplish anything.
She was the one person I could trust to discuss dicey subjects: politics, dating, school problems and friends. She had great judgement and was right about more things than I would ever admit. We had a running battle about clothes. My mom hated my casual grunge look, with my staple outfit of low-riding pants, clunky boots and loose, ill-fitting tee shirts. She never missed a chance to drag me to the mall, usually under pretense of buying my dad a gift, and getting me to try on tailored, preppy sweater sets and pleated skirts. I saw the loving look in her eye when I modeled these...