Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Another Holiday, More Life Change

Although in recent holidays past I had little contact with my mother, I knew she was alive, or I guessed she was alive, and that gave me some comfort.

I always assumed everyone's life was like mine, full of the roller coaster rides of pain, joy, disappointments and celebrations. As I talked about my life to friends, I was always amazed that they rarely had the same sort of life. Some had similar challenges, all had their own hurdles to jump, but the jaws on their desks were a clue that maybe my life stories were either more forth coming and I needed a better filter when I shared or maybe my life really was a bit more crazy than most.

The past several Thanksgivings I have spent alone, mostly by choice.

I had invitations to go to other families meals but it seemed an invasion on their traditions. They made their memories long before they met me and with my baggage, I didn't want to insert the memory of that "poor lonely lady" into their tradtion. Even without saying a word, just a smile and "thank you for inviting me", the very fact I was there alone indicated a problems in my current family life. This didn't belong in a happy family situation.

It made more sense to me to send my little guy with his dad, who has lots of family that gathers for the Thanksgiving Feast, to make memories like I had from my childhood.

I chose to sit with my snuggy, remote and TV dinner or go to a movie, imposing on no one. In Austin, the Alamo Draft House offeres Thanksgiving meals on real plates with real forks that clink all through the movie with offerings of the traditional feast. I decided this was going to be my new tradtion, as it usually was also my birthday celebration. It wasn't bad. It was actually kinda nice to sit with a group of other people, to my way of thinking, who were mostly alone like me, and share a meal in the dark with them while watching a B grade re-release.

This year, it feels like the last of my family that helped solidify the traditions from my childhood is gone.

Mom, although robbed of her memories by Alzheimer's almost a decade ago, played a huge role in my bigger than life recall of how I became the person I am today. Not so big of a life that I could brag about my accomplishments but I became a survivor, much like her. I have never given up and stage right holds my alternative plan if the current one fails.

This Thanksgiving will be spent with a friend and her 95 year old father. They will be my family this year. Separate, we would each be alone. The three of us a family we will make, at least this year. I may have a new memory each year and I have decided that is okay. There is nothing wrong with change, if I can embrass the changes. At my age, I better learn to embrass change or I will only be fighting with myself, Mother Nature is not going to lose this battle, never has, never will.

This year I am thankful God gave me the mother I had. If I had any other mother, I would be such a different person. Heaven forbid, I could have been boring!

A flip of the cosmic coin on whether I would be a better or worse person but not worth spending more than this sentence thinking about. For all the pain, all the joy, all the love, teaching me to never give up by example, for all the challenges offered by my mother, I am truly grateful and Mom, I love you, always and until forever.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

My Mom Died

Faithful readers. Thank you for not giving up on checking my site. I have gotten many private e-mail from you asking when is the next post.

It is on it's way but will have to come in it's own time.

I just went to the depths of hell and demon spawn had to be delt with just to get my mother buried. Now I didn't know these were demon spawn, I thought they were loving and caring family who cared more for our mother than they did a dollar. I was wrong.

In memorandum, this is for my mother and I will be back with more stories in the future.

One of the last times I was in Arkansas to see my mom, it was 13 months after my father passed away. My favorite moment from that visit will live with me forever.

I was talking to Mom about something of no consequence standing by the cooking island in her kitchen area when suddenly and unexpectedly, she took it upon herself to abruptly walk into my arms when I was in mid-sentence. She wrapped her arms around my waist and put her head on my chest. Once I got past my shock, I slowly rested my head on top of hers then softly draped my arms around her thin shoulders. We stood in silence and swayed, as if to the same music although none was playing as we held each other.

I traveled back to when I was about 9 years old. She would be singing and dancing in the tiny kitchen on Carolyn Street in Jacksonville. I might have had my head in the refrigerator or just passing through to the back door when she would catch me off guard and gather me in her arms to sneak in a quick, tight hug that might end with her swinging me around and telling me she loved me then releasing me only after leaving a very slobbery kiss on my face.

It had been decades since I had thought about this mom from the 1950’s. Then on this day, for no particular reason, Mom chose to remind me of that singing and dancing mom, to send me her own brand of love as she did when I was a child.

Mom still hadn’t said a word and the warm hug seemed to last into the next day. I was filled with joy at her surprise embrace, even if she couldn’t swing me. It truly was a peace that passes understanding and I felt happiness that only a poet could explain. As we stood in her kitchen, light filtered through the curtained window over the sink and it felt like we were in God’s spotlight, suspended in this moment in time, just the two of us.

Just as abruptly, Mom took a small step back and looked up at my face. I was kinda hoping for that slobbery kiss from my childhood but instead, her eyes squinted and she leaned in closer, slowly taking me in from head to toe. She took another step back and finally asked, “Are you taller?” I stifled a startled laugh, trying not to break the peaceful moment we had together and gently told her, “Mom, you have shrunk. I am still 5’ 5”.”

She backed up another step, looked me up and down again from a few more steps away, then stepped in close as if to hug me again but her arms did not surround me, instead, as her toes touched my toes, her hair touched the bottom of my chin. She used her flattened hand and ran it from the top of her hair forward to the tip of my chin, all the while checking my feet, frequently asking, “you’re not on your tip toes are you?”

I smiled. Clearly the tender moment we shared was lost on her at that point and it was okay for me to smile, as long as she didn’t see the smile. She said defiantly with her spine straight and her own chin in the air, “No, you have grown because I am 5’ 5”, always have been, always will be! You have grown.”

That was the last word on the issue. It didn’t matter, I was still warm from her hug and admired her spunk. I told her I must have grown if she has always been 5’ 5”. Satisfied with her declaration and my agreement, she turned on her heels and went off to another part of the house looking for her puppy who was always right at her feet when not on her lap.

That moment with my mom has sustained me. I have relived that moment every time I felt I needed her. She was right there with me, arms around me, holding me, loving me. It never fails to make me smile, it never fails to make me cry. It was a wonderful gift that reminded me she was a strong woman who never lost her loving and kind heart. I loved her never ending and into forever and I will never forget that she was right that day we shared one last embrace between a mother and daughter.

She didn’t shrink. I was the child, she was the mother. Even if she wasn’t exactly 5’ 5” any longer, her feisty spirit made up for any inches age may have taken.