The Coast News Group
Small Talk

Time of year brings memories of mom

It’s been two years since my mom died, and yesterday I suddenly found myself sobbing.
The tears came over me like a storm on a sunny day, utterly unexpected, even though she had been on my mind. I had felt her standing next to me as I baked, reminding me to follow the recipe. She was at my elbow as I decorated, suggesting with memories of things she always did. She laughed as I wrapped and wrapped and wrapped to fill stockings for my family to overflowing, always with an orange in the toe, in the tradition she began many years ago. I found myself trying to mirror and mimic all she did that made our holidays so special.
Something was very different about the feeling that prompted these unexpected tears. I was finally able to climb out from under the memory of the unhappy woman she became the last few years of her life and feel again the wonderful person she truly was. A series of strokes left her immobile and took away all her joy. There was still a person in my mother’s body, but it wasn’t the woman I grew up with. She was left, sadly, with little but anger and frustration and her death was a kind release for her.
In the end, she was unable to do any of the things that gave her life meaning — cook, entertain, read, sew or just get up, be useful and take care of business, which she had always done with grace and ease. And there was absolutely nothing I could do about it. I was deeply sad at her death, but I had been just as sad for several years, watching her happiness and her true self slip away.
So there I stood at the sink, mixing cookie dough as almost happy tears spilled over. I now miss her with a fierce longing. I have family photos I want her to see. I have questions I want to ask about the secret to her perfect pie crust. I have hugs I want to give her and hugs I’d dearly love to get.
I calmed myself with reminders that we shared years of those warm hugs and kisses. I am blessed with few regrets. I ease my new grief with knowing that no one loved my children as much as I did except their grandma. She even loved my husband, which is an enormous blessing to any marriage. She spent most of her life bringing the warmth and keeping the peace.
Every now and then, when my life gets too frantic, those lessons grow pale. I needed a serious visit from her true spirit, and to my great joy, she’s there.