It is beyond difficult to lose a parent. It feels as though your very soul has been ripped into a billion pieces and a huge number of those pieces are lost forever, leaving you less than whole. But this story isn’t about pain and loss and grief. While those things never really leave you, this story is about hope, love and becoming.
I lost my mother when I was a small child. As the oldest of four children, I think I am the one who holds the most memories of her. The visuals and such fade over the years, but some things remain.
My mother was a fun loving person, as I recall. She enjoyed music and dancing. She also loved being a mother.
My mother watched soap operas. I recall one of her “stories” was Secret Storm. I also remember that she had a routine-she did all her chores in the morning so she wouldn’t miss her stories. After her stories were over, I had my own…Captain Kangaroo, for one.
I remember helping my mother with the dishes. She would wash them and I would stand on a chair and “dry” them before lining them up on the counter for her to put away. While we did the dishes, we talked. I remember her telling me, when I was about 9 years old, about “woman” things. I also remember that she talked about these things in such a matter of fact way that I was never embarrassed or afraid about them.
I remember my mother at the kitchen table making home made noodles. I remember her working the dough with her fingers and I remember her cutting, by hand, the individual noodles. I remember being fascinated that she could create them so easily.
I remember my mother frying eggs for us. She would scoop them into our plate and then chop them into tiny pieces with the fork…always over easy. To this day, so many years later, when I fry an egg for myself, it is over easy and chopped into tiny pieces before I eat it.
I remember my mother’s reaction the day President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. I had stayed home from school that morning having a brand new case of mumps and was laying on the couch with a new coloring book and crayons as she always seemed to have on hand when one of us was sick.
The television was on and as I watched, the horror in Dallas unfolded. I remember callling out [hoarsely] to my mother that something happened to the President. She walked into the room just as it was announced he had been shot and [as I recall] was not expected to survive. I remember my mother falling to the floor on her knees in despair. From then, she and I watched together as it was announced the President had died and then we watched as Lee Harvey Oswald was killed by Jack Ruby. It never occurred to her, I suppose, that I was very young to see such things, but I remember feeling sad and upset but not frightened because I was with her. She held me close as we watched and I felt that security.
I remember my mohter having a telephone that stood on it’s end and chirped like a bird when it rang. The dial was on the bottom where it sat on the bedside table. I was fascinated by that telephone.
I remember a dozen red roses sitting on top of our black and white [as opposed to color, for those too young to know]. As I recall, my Dad bought them for her…perhaps as an anniversary or birthday.
I remember on the last anniversary they shared before she died, my Dad bought a book shelf with sliding glass doors. Then, I remember a salesman coming to our door selling World Book encyclopedia. My mother bought a set, the covers were red. When they came, she put them in the glass front bookcase. I still have that bookcase here in my office and when I look at it, I remember my mother.
I remember those encyclopedia and how my brothers and my sister and I would pull them out and lay in the living room floor looking up…everything. I can remember telling my mother arbitrary facts learned during those times. I remember my mother was always interested and fascinated by any fact we learned.
I remember my mother cutting two holes in a white sheet and I became a ghost for Halloween. She or Dad would then walk us up and down the short streets of our tiny town where we would gather our goodies from every home.
I remember my mother always listening to KXOK radio out of St Louis. At that time, they played all the popular songs of the time and one memory that stands out is of her dancing across the kitchen to Mack the Knife by Bobby Darin. I learned later in life that this was her favorite song. I also remember my mother listening and singing along to Moon River by Andy Williams.
I remember my mother saying she wanted to learn to play the banjo. She never did. I often wonder what other dreams she may have had that were never fulfilled. With that in mind, I strive to reach my own dreams in order to honor her as well as being the best I can be.
My mother passed away suddenly in 1964 at the age of 33. She left behind a devoted husband and four children-I was the oldest at age 10. Yes, there have been many, many times of grief and pain and loss, but there have been more times of remembering her spirit and her joy for life. There have been many more times of remembering the love and security she gave us. There have been many more times of remembering her sense of humor and there have been many more times of being thankful I had her for the short time I did. I am who I am partly because of what she gave me.
We mourn the loss of someone near to us, but we must also remember to cherish the things they gave us while they were here.
I remember my mother.
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