Alexis Landis doesn't live too far from where she grew up outside of Philadelphia. Her parents, city folks, followed a familiar pattern at the time, and looked at suburbia as the best place to raise their only daughter. The product of her mother's dedication to teaching and social activism, and her father's creativity, Landis decided to return to the city to work in media.
Today she explores the bonds that tie families together and her unbreakable love for her mother. Alexis Landis is video and audio producer at WHYY. She and her husband live in Media, PA.
The other day I realized that I have my mother's hands. Lines creasing the skin, olive tone, round fingernails. I never thought we looked anything alike, but as I slowly age I see more and more of her, in me. The way my body is shaped, the clothes I choose to wear, the things I like and dislike. The passion that I bring to everything I do.
My mother passed away on a cold December day in 2009, she passed away, after complications from a brain aneurysm and a stroke that had left her debilitated. I struggled with her death alone and inside of myself, desperately wanting to return to a normal life, but I knew my perception of the world around me would be changed forever.
I ended up seeing a therapist and doing a lot of writing; but nothing could replace the conversations we used to have, about life, good food, my husband or the frivolous joys of clothing and make-up; and, of course, politics.
That was the greatest thing about my mom. She was smart and elegant, but also down to earth and funny. But more importantly she taught me to uphold intellectual pursuit above all else, to always face down opposition with grace and to view the world around me from all sides.
I remember how my mother would stay up till all hours working on a political blog, one of the first, back when television news still reigned supreme and the blogosphere had yet to take off. I never understood how she could fight off sleep each night after a full day of her teaching job, to work on this daunting pursuit with 8 other women. But that's what you do when your passionate about something.
Her enthusiasm, work ethic and determination pushed me to nurture my work in television and radio, and whether I succeeded or struggled, she was always there to share in the moment. I wouldn't go more than a few days without talking to her. She was always happy to hear from me, no matter what, her voice radiating tenderness and love like a warm blanket wrapped around you in the middle of winter.
Sometimes I make a mental check to make sure I still remember that voice, just as it was. I can still hear her motherly mantra-- "don't worry about me" she would say, you come first!" I'm still not sure if I like the way she always put herself second.
I know I won't get to talk to her again in the same way I used to, but we will forever be entwined. When I miss her, all I have to do is look at my hands.