Monday, August 11, 2008

She Would Have Loved Roller Coasters

Today it has been 23 years since my mom died. I was trying to think of a nice way to put that. You know...she"left this world," "went into the arms of the Lord," "went on to a better place," and so on. And I believe all that too, but just saying she died is probably enough. How do you put that nicely?

I never get the chance to talk about her. It's hard to just bring that subject up out of the blue. The people that are close to me that can talk about her, don't want to. And that's okay. I understand all the "why's" to that. It's just you know, she was my mom and I miss her. I have that need to talk about her once in a while. She deserves to be talked about.

She was a pretty sick woman. All my childhood revolved around a sick mother. She was a beautiful, wonderful, loving, sweet mother. She did her best. But she was sick. We went to the doctor a lot. Dialysis. She was in bed. A lot. When she wasn't though, she was with my sister and I. We didn't do much, but hang around the house a lot. She was completely blind, so there were no soccer games, no dance recitals, no trips to the mall. We did go to church though. It was pretty much about all we did. She had the big faith. That is a huge thing I remember about her. I can see her in church. Eyes closed, hands raised, singing, praising. She took it all in.

One thing she did a lot was make tapes. She always had a tape recorder in hand. Instead of writing letters, she would make tapes and send them to the family back east. She would record everything, share our life--much like I do with this blog and my own family. Sometimes she would record my sister and I playing without us knowing it. Those were always good--I was usually bossing my sister around--something my sister is no doubt grateful to have evidence for. She would record us singing, putting on shows, opening presents at Christmas, birthdays. Or she would just get on and talk and talk. And laugh. I have forgotten a lot about her, but I've never forgotten the sound of her laugh. She kind of cackled. I remember her belly laughing a lot. My family back east is good about this--her people. It's like the laughter has been bottled up and all of a sudden it just explodes. That fall down, out of control laugh. The kind of laugh that makes you cry. That kind of laugh. It was wonderful. I love when that kind of laugh happens. When she died, most of the family that she sent these tapes to, gave them back to me. I have boxes of them. Treasures.

She had an accent too. An east coast accent that all my Maryland family have. It's almost southern. A little drawn out. I love it. I hate that I don't have it. I love that she had it. I can hear that too.

She loved music. She played the guitar. Even taught lessons. I remember a lot of Christopher Cross. Michael McDonald. And a lot of old country music. Think Loretta Lyn. Very twangy. Heartbreaking music. I can't name any other examples, but it's that kind of music that when I come across it (which is very rare), it immediately takes me back...to her.

A memory that stands out, is when she went to California to get a guide dog. It was the first time she had ever been away from us. She went to California blind and alone (back in a time when it was still a big deal for a blind person to go anywhere alone--or at least, that's what I remember). She went to this school to learn how to use her guide dog. She brought "Nicky" home with her. This beautiful yellow lab. My mom's new eyes. I remember seeing pictures of her away at this school with a couple friends she had met there--also getting guide dogs. I remember her looking young and beautiful, happy and free. I remember being proud of her.

My mom died in Maryland. My sister and I were living with my dad in Arizona at the time. I was 12. She was 36. My dad didn't think it was a good idea for my sister and I to go to the funeral. So we didn't. That messed me up pretty bad for a good few years. We needed to be there in a big way. It took years of faith, writing, therapy and just plain growing up, for me to come to an "okay" place about this. I can't be angry forever. I can't keep that in. It's bad for you. My love for my dad is much greater than that. As a parent myself, I can almost understand it. Maybe not understand it, but accept it. But I wish I had been there. I just wish I had been there period. But that's what divorce and being too young to do anything about it does to you. It is what it is.

A couple of years ago, I sat down with my aunt--my mother's sister--and we talked about The Day she died. My mom was in a sort of hospice. She needed 24-hour care. Despite that, her dying was kind of sudden for everyone. No one was expecting her to die. So they were surprised when her doctor called them to tell them they all needed to come in, that she wasn't doing well. So everyone went in. When they got there, she was chatty...seemed surprisingly okay. My mom actually told them to go get breakfast. I guess she had reassured them that it would be okay to do that. While they were at breakfast, she passed away. The doctors and nurses hadn't even realized she passed. My aunt said that my mom was smiling. Like she was sleeping with a smile on her face. I don't know if my aunt just said that, to sort of "add a little bow at the end" for me, but my mom smiling as she passed away does make perfect sense to me. That is totally what she would do. She knew where she was going.

I like to imagine things though. Like, I love to imagine her in my life right now. Experiencing this. My girls. My husband. She would have loved it all. She would have loved and completely understood our love of the Wiggles and the 35+ Wiggle concerts we've been to--she would have made a point to go with us. She would have had a favorite Wiggle too. She would have been cat calling from the audience at my daughters' dance recitals. She was that way. Every time music came on, she would grab my girls' hands and dance with them--no matter where we were. She would have thought I was an amazing cook. She would have laughed her arse off at my hubby, and constantly tell me how handsome he was. She would have loved my church. She would have loved Coldplay. Roller coasters. My dog. Swimming with my little mermaids. The Fourth of July. Camping. S'mores. Snow. Laying out in the sun. My daughters' noise. Sitting on my front porch. She would have loved it all. And sometimes, I think she does.

**Please no bad comments about my dad. He is everything to me. Tip top of my list.

17 comments:

DYSFUNCTIONAL MOM said...

I'm so sorry for your loss. What a touching story.
Thanks for stopping by my blog.

Mummy said...

I'm so sorry to read about your loss. It's 2 years since I lost my mum on sunday so I can understand a little. Your mum sounds like an inspirational character. Much love to you and your family.

Mamahut said...

That was a very nice story about your mama. She sounds like someone I would have liked being around too. I do understand about your dad it made sense to him at the time.

amelia bedelia said...

What sweet memories you have of your mother...it brought tears to my eyes...

Liesl said...

Your post brought tears to my eyes. I'm sorry. It's a coincidence, and also unfair I posted something not so nice about my mom today.
I'm sure wherever she is, she is doing everything you described, and of course looking over you guys.
xoxo

Dee said...

Your love for your mum really comes through in this. Brought tears to my eyes. I can imagine that having her big faith made her so happy at the last. Thanks for sharing your memories.

Sunshine said...

dysfunctional mom--(I kind of felt bad typing that out, girl...)--Thanks for saying that. I really appreciate it. It's been a long time and it really *does* do me good to talk about her. Thanks for stopping by over here. :)

Sunshine said...

Mummy--I'm sorry for your loss too. Yours is so fresh and raw. I would hug you if I could. ((hugs))

Sunshine said...

mamahut--Thanks for stopping by and saying such sweet things. She was kind of awesome. Still is. And thanks for being nice to my dad too. :)

Sunshine said...

amelia bedelia--Thaaaank you. I didn't mean to make you tear up. I means a lot that you took a moment to "listen" to me. So sweet.

Sunshine said...

Renata--No tears! You're gonna make me cry! I have no doubt she is still with us from time to time. :)

Sunshine said...

Dee--Thanks sweets. Yes...exactly. The faith is exactly why it totally makes sense to me that she was smiling. She knew it was gonna be good. :)

Jennifer P. said...

My mama's been gone for 2 1/2 years now. Since my dad was killed in an accident when I was only 4, I never imagined God would take my mom from me too. She was the glue that held our family together. My kids and I loved her soooooo much and still not a day goes by that I don't think about her or wish she was here to share in something with us. I know she IS here--nearby a lot of times even---but it's still not close enough to hold her hand or hear her laugh. I suppose I'll be like you and still mourning it in 23 years too!

Just letting you know that there are those of us who understand your pain and are having a good cry with you. Wishing you the kind of peace that only comes from the Source of peace. Love to you!

Lesley said...

Sunshine, this is such a beautiful and moving post. I lost my beautiful Mum just over a year ago after a short and very distressing battle against a very aggressive brain tumour.
Nothing ever really eases the loss but precious memories do help to heal. I found one of my Mum's sketch books last week and cried my eyes out!!
I think it's wonderful that you have those special tapes to keep your Mum's memory alive. She sounds like a very special lady :)

xxxx

Sunshine said...

JenniferP--Oh, you are so kind, and break my heart over the loss of both of your parents. And your mom's passing is so recent. I'm so sorry. I hope you know that peace too, feel it daily. I appreciate you sharing something so personal and difficult. It does mean a lot. ((hugs))

Sunshine said...

lesley--I'm so sorry for your loss too. You girls are breaking my heart. We all need our moms. Thanks for sharing and just the ability to talk about her (it's sooooo helpful to talk about it...to remember), is good for me. So I thank you for "listening" and taking the time to say something. Very kind of you. ((hugs)) to you as well.

P.S. I love that you found her sketch book too. A treasure, for sure. And sometimes a good cry is just what we need.

Lori said...

I'm glad you posted this. I read your earlier post about your mother and it struck a chord. I've been diabetic since age 5, and this makes me even more thankful to be with my three little ones.