By Patrick Brennan
When I look around my apartment, I see my mother’s mark everywhere.
I see her in the stacks of movies by my television, the books on my shelves and in the long-boxes that line the walls of my office. So much of what I love and am passionate about today was passed down to me from her, and much of what I’ve learned about finding bravery in yourself against the odds came from her example.
She was a single parent who worked as a bank teller until she was diagnosed with a rare form of skin cancer when she was 40. For eight years she battled the disease with a ferocity that I didn’t quite understand or recognize when I was a boy but am in awe of now as a man. She was stripped of so many things she took pride in (her independence, her mobility, her beauty) but somehow, in what cannot be described as anything other than a superhuman effort, she maintained an inner strength that rivalled anything found in a comic or movie.
She also refused to lose her sense of imagination. In many ways, my mother was the first nerd I ever met. Mom read everything, had an encyclopedic knowledge of horror movies, and was never shy about her fondness of all things Star Trek. She was reminded of her childhood love of Wonder Woman and Supergirl after, at the tender age of eight, I took my first steps into the world of comics. Soon we were reading them together, with me turning the pages and her looking over my shoulder.
My mother was the first person to teach me that the stories we devoured had meaning. They were not tripe or things that “would rot my mind” like so many well-meaning but ignorant teachers warned. They had lessons to teach us, weight to them. They were not a waste of time and I was not silly to love them.
To this day, the moments that I miss my mother the most are the times when I’m enjoying the passions she instilled in me. I wish so badly that she could have seen the X-Men movies (she had a thing for Wolverine), watched shows like Dexter or Battlestar Gallactica, or read comics like Scott Snyder’s current Batman run. It hurts to think of how much she would have enjoyed all of these and more, but they are also the moments that I feel closest to her.
Sometimes, it still feels like she’s reading over my shoulder.