I’ve been busy with one thing or another, including the birth of a new grandson (Emmett Andrew Brower, 8# 4 oz, and beautiful and healthy!) so just hadn’t felt the need to write very often. Today I do.
It’s still winter here, always a time for reflection for me, and the beginning of Lent. (Which I'm not really very good at observing, but I'm going to try to do better this year.)
My mother died in late February, 2001, after a blessedly short battle with colon cancer. I was always grateful that she died in winter, because today, as I did the day of her funeral, I noticed my bulbs peeking out to remind me that the joy of a southern Spring will definitely be arriving before too many more weeks.
The afternoon Mama died, my good friend Kate arrived at my house with food and condolences before I actually got home, and gave me the best indication of how significant this loss was going to be to my life. “My mother died years ago, and never a day goes by that I don’t miss her, ” Kate mused as she hugged me.
The depth of that missing still kind of caught me by surprise, because Mama and I were really rather contentious for most of my life, but Kate was absolutely right: I miss my mama every day, but especially this time of year.
Daddy died a few years before Mama did, and I was sad, just not too sad. After a childhood of him coming and going, it didn’t seem all that unusual for him to be gone. In my family of origin, Mama functioned perfectly well as both mother and father, so I was used to that.
When I was young, anytime Mama made up a new rule to enforce, she always introduced it with, “Your daddy thinks you should/shouldn’t do…………..
Whatever it was I was forbidden or charged to do, I eventually figured out Mama’s ruse. Daddy really wasn’t all that concerned with what we children did, but she didn’t want to be the bad guy. She didn't hesitate to be the enforcer of some of those rules, though, and she enforced with enthusiasm when it suited her.
I instinctively find ways to comfort myself when I miss Mama and Daddy.
When I convince myself to buy something a little bit extravagant that I really “want”, not “need”, that’s Daddy giving me whatever made me happy at the time. He somehow taught me to carefully choose those splurges, although I never remember him saying no to me.
When I miss my mother, particularly late every afternoon, I call one of my daughters or a friend who is generally happy to talk to me. Maybe they're not invariably overjoyed to hear from me as Mama always was, but they're usually willing to lend an ear. And if not, there’s always Caller ID.
Sometimes a manicure or getting my hair done feels more satisfying than like a chore, because it reminds me that Mama always made me look prettier than I really was… even if she did keep me dressed in little girl clothes way beyond what pleased me.
I love that I have all Mama’s recipes and a lot of her cooking utensils, because one sure fire way to deal with missing her is to cook, okay BAKE, something yummy, and give myself permission to lick the spoon and then have the first bite when it comes out of the oven. I made a lemon ice box pie for little Walker today, and who do you think got the first bite?
I definitely am not off to a good start for Lent.
The church seasons and going to church usually makes me feel closer to Mama. I can still her slightly off, but still sweet, soprano when I sing her favorite hymns, also slightly off but with gusto. I had debated whether to go to Ash Wednesday services today, but somehow I think that it might make me miss her less.
I'm grateful to have my mama and daddy still in my heart. I hope I live my life so that others will hold me in theirs too.