I figured I’d post a photo of my Mom too…just like 75% of the other cool kids on FB. One problem…I couldn’t find one. Brief panic set in as I headed to the attic twice to find one. Not wanting to feel any more motherless than necessary, I had to find one. Alas…thanks to a rusty trunk that looks like it was made circa 1810 I found it. It was there in the album my mom had made just for me after she became ill. How about a collective F you to cancer? Thanks.
She’s been gone twenty-five years. That’s a quarter of 100 (and I suck at math). Mother’s day was the last day she was able to speak. She died 3 days later. And after that I used to count the days from her death. Then the weeks. And months. I stopped doing that a few years ago when the years without her outnumbered the days I had with her. That, and again the fact that I suck at math.
Then a few weeks ago my oldest son asked, “Do you have any pictures of her? Of Grandma? You don’t really talk about her much.” Oh boy. For years I would just give them a quick, easy answer. “She was really nice and she would absolutely love you.” That answer wasn’t cuttin’ it anymore. I could sense he wasn’t going for the short version.
But in talking about her I might be emotionally inconvenienced. I would have to explain that she wanted to stay, but she couldn’t, at one point looking me straight in the face and explaining there was nothing left the doctors cold do. Man, I wish she would have lied.
Or do I tell them about all she missed? My college graduation. My first job. My wedding. My husband. And the biggest of all…my boys.
Then I realize she didn’t miss a thing. I missed her. My mother raised me better than that. Good comes from bad. And someone always has it worse.
She told me the important life lessons. About marriage…you have to be unselfish because your spouse will change. You have to make a decision whether or not to accept that change. I should mention at this point that my husband and I both are youngest kids. Stubbornness abounds.
About kids. You’re going to get upset with them but you need to make sure you calm down when you discipline them because you don’t want to punish them out of anger. Even if they call their brother a butthead?
Treat others they way you want to be treated. Yes, even if they really are buttheads.
Career? She thought maybe I could do something where I could write or talk. Mother really does know best.
The good so outweighs the bad. So I thought of what I loved, liked, and missed the most about my mom.
I remember she always smelled good. Not in a perfumey way, although there was a brief Jean Nate phase. But she smelled sweet. Really. Like honey. I took comfort in laying my head on her shoulder or lap just to take in that good mom scent.
Hands down the best bread baker in the neighbor hood. I know my crew from the old neighborhood will back me up on this. Some of them got Twinkies but my mom made bread and cookies from scratch. My baking skills pale in comparison. Okay, there is no comparison.
She saw beauty in anything and everything. A tree wasn’t just a tree. It was a rich, strong figure extending its branches leading to something else. Yes, this is why I stop and look hard at trees. Really hard.
She was the happiest when she was painting. I mean the kind of happy that when you and your best friend wanted to stay out late and she was painting, she would nod her head and say. “Okay sweetie, have fun.” All while keeping a steady eye on the canvas.
And she was nervous about lots of stuff .Yes, boys take note I am not the only one that says you can’t be letting just anyone walk in your house. Or that gloves need to be worn in the winter even if it’s for a 3 second walk to the car.
She wrote notes. Lots of them. Found one in her golf bags a few years ago. In her final days she wrote notes to remember things she wanted to talk with God about. Kinda wish I could have gotten something on that list too. And this may be where my love of post-it notes derives from.
When she saw you off she would wave. She would stand there until you were out of sight. I know because I looked back. I often wondered how long she stood there.
She didn’t believe in waste or care about being fancy. The good fluffy bathroom towels and the real butter (who invented margarine?) only came out when company came. Oh how I longed for more visitors.
She was grounded in her faith and believed in attending church as close to every Sunday as possible. That determination was quite possibly the only advantage of growing up in a family that believes camping hundreds of miles from civilization was fun. There are no churches in national forests.
She was really good to others and put them first. I’m the youngest…still working on it.
She understood hard work. She picked cotton as a kid. She mothered six children. The thought of both of those scenarios amazes and frightens me at the same time.
So boys, the short answer is she was really nice and she would have really loved you. The long answer unfolds every day in the beauty around us in caring for others in relishing every moment with those we love.
Mom, thank you seems so minimal for all you taught, gave and sacrificed for me. I would give anything to see you give me that close-to-forever wave. At least now if I do turn to look back, I know that somehow you are waving back. I may not see you, but your presence surrounds me.