It’s Tuesday and I’m sitting here looking at the blank page wondering what to write. It’s not the first time this has happened, but today it’s particularly difficult, almost painful.
Today marks 10 years to the date and exact day of the week that my dear mama breathed her last breath.
The anxiety, pain, odd feelings, what have you, leading up to today began probably in November. And that day, it was not so much the knowing that I would have to recall the night I walked into her bedroom and saw her lying there so peacefully, but it was the realization that I would wonder where did the last 10 years really go. Was I standing still? Did I make a difference anywhere? What happened in my life the last 10 years and the more I thought about it, I looked back over a quilt of mist and fog.
Sure, I completed a master’s degree, helped our son graduate from high school and college, saw my mother-in-law pass away, came to work at Clay Today, but what about the plans I had?
Is it unfair to look back and wonder if I really got anything accomplished? Is it unfair to ponder whether I was as disconnected each day during the past 10 years as I feel this very moment? Or is it simply how I’ve looked back over the past 10 years to realize – and finally honor – what my mother meant to me and so many people.
I recall the stories she was finally able to tell me about the care she gave us while raising nine children. How I’d vaguely recall her rocking me to sleep at night and the story she told me as an adult of her doing that very thing. Apparently, I was a night owl and I still am.
“I used to rock you and Frank (my older brother) to sleep in front of the fireplace,” she told me two months before her passing. “Y’all would fall asleep in my lap and I’d slide one of you onto the floor and go put the other one to bed.”
And then, there were the stories my sisters and I would tell two nights later outside around a fire ring. My sister Laurie told us about the prized red dress mama had when she was a newlywed and how Daddy took the dress and cut it into little pieces.
“He said he didn’t ever want another man to look at her because she was so beautiful,” Laurie said, holding back tears.
While I was shocked to hear such a story, I really wasn’t at the same time. Having nine children ends up as a recipe for nine separate sets of nine separate unique memories.
I looked into the fire and around the circle at my family’s glowing faces and love enveloped us all. Mama’s dog Happy – who seemed to carry her same loving spirit – walked around the fire ring ensuring we were all safe wanting to steal a pat on the head where he could. (Happy would, weeks later, come to live here with us.)
My nephew Mark, who was almost like a younger brother, shared stories of his Gramma and how much he loved her.
There was an irony around the fire that night at the family farm and the home I’d grown up in. We were doing two things that had always been prohibited – imbibing in adult beverages and starting a fire. Daddy, who said I was always a pyromaniac, was asleep in the house as we fellowshipped outside on the edge of the yard and field.
And as I glimpsed upward at the crisp April night sky, I knew in my heart we were making a memory that would last a lifetime, despite my own personal mist and fog.