Last Monday my ninety-seven year old mom passed away. I’m not sure the reality has made it’s way to my heart yet. I keep thinking I need to call her, keep thinking of her sitting in her cozy little armchair in her apartment at her Assisted Living.
She gave me the incredible gift of a happy childhood that transitioned into a deep, enriching friendship as I grew older. Although it may have seemed so to a little girl, she wasn’t perfect, but when I became a mom I understood my own need of grace and extended it to her.
These past few days I’ve taken off the adult “glasses” and looked back through the years with little girl eyes. I remember:
- the smell of freshly baked cookies filling our small house
- the trips to the lake every afternoon in the summer
- our home filled with family and friends and a beautifully set table overflowing with the delicious meals she was fast becoming known for
- listening to her talking with her sisters - sitting quietly so they forgot I was there and hoping Aunt Dorothy would let me wear her jangly charm bracelet
- choosing patterns and fabric and receiving with wonder the clothing she made for my little sister and I (and our baby dolls too)
- the way she made Christmas memories
- seeing her serve others whenever she saw a need
- feeling lucky that she was my Brownie leader and active in our PTA
- calling her every day for advice and encouragement after the birth of my first child
- sitting at her kitchen table, drinking tea and talking about family, friends, books, movies, what life was like for her growing up- just about everything.
Yesterday my husband and I packed up her belongings. I folded the lovely quilts she had spent countless hours working on - a labor of love. I see her sitting at her quilting frame turning tiny stitches into beautiful art. I set aside handkerchieves (no tissues for mom) edged with the tatting she had added just to make them pretty. I packed away the small mementoes she had tucked into her dresser drawers, many of them dating back to the years she waited for her love to return from the war. Steve sorted through hundreds of photographs and put them in boxes.
One day we will sit with the grandchildren and great-grandchildren and look through them all. We will tell the stories as best we can and place her simple treasures in their hands. She would want them to have the things that spoke of her deep love for them.
She leaves behind a legacy deep in faith and rich in love. Her family meant everything to her. Given her way, we would all have lived within a city block of one another. Now that I’m a grandmother I understand.
I am thankful for her life. Mine won’t be quite the same without her, but I know I will see her again some day. We often talked about what heaven would be like. I see her there now, her mind clear, her body healthy and strong - reunited with my father and those she loved so dearly and so well.
I miss you mom.