momma, i remember sitting at your feet on a sunny summer day while you hung wet sheets in the breeze. i was happy to pick the clover at your feet & smell them. no other cares belonged to me. the bees liked the clover more than i, & you warned me not to touch them. you said they would hurt me. but i reached out in my earliest memory of independence...& the bee did indeed hurt me, to tears. you wrapped me in your aproned hug & though i was still sniffling, it really was all better - there in the sun & summer breeze & flapping sheets.
i remember the day of boredom - no one was around on a perfect summer eve to play in the neighborhood. i paced around & moaned about a lot of nothing. you had just finished drying the dinner dishes & disappeared into your room, returning a moment later with a surprise - the Uncle Wiggly game! we played for hours that evening, laughing to hysterics, leaving daddy to wonder about us! bedtime came much too soon.
i remember sitting in the living room, completely surrounded in chaos of boxes & newspaper & beautiful things. again, after we finished the dishes, you disappeared into the closet, emerging with box after box...telling me it was time to pass some things along. for the first time since your wedding, we were unwrapping treasures of crystal that you had deemed much too elaborate for your lifestyle. tiny sherbet glasses, serving bowls, sets of beverage glasses in different sizes, candlesticks...with a blush you pulled out a juice glass still had remnants of red wax on the bottom indent- daddy had snuck it from the box, turned it upside down and placed a candle in it for you! how very sweet! how utterly romantic!i remember moving into my dorm room - you were all business on a very difficult day, but you did not let on to just how hard that day was. you made sure my bed was made & that daddy had moved the heavy things to just the right place. you fed me and hugged me and left with a big smile on your face. later, 22 years later, i would know just how hard that day is for a mom...
i remember putting on the wedding dress, showing you 4 of the sweetest newborns ever, cyring on your shoulder in utter grief after losing 3 babies, going to high tea for a birthday, driving the Skyline Drive after snow & ice in a winter wonderland if there ever was one, proudly showing you our new home, sharing stories of our many adventures when D. took his jobs in the South...
i remember your last birthday...daddy, terminally ill & home bound, called me with an edge of panic. he never missed buying you one of those gushy "for my dear wife" birthday cards, but this time he couldn't get to the store for your card. i stifled the urge to say i would pick one up (not the same thing, mind you) & encouraged him to do a homemade card. he just said hmmm...then talked about other things.
i remember sitting at your feet with my head in your lap the night daddy died - you kept rubbing my arm & all i could do was think how grateful i was for your soft & comforting touch. we spent the next 10 days together & all i could do was marvel at your strength in spite of being hospitalized - facing day after devastating day of poor medical diagnoses - the day after your dear husband of 51 years had died. you did not complain. you did what the medical types asked, time after time. you accepted their poor prognoses with grace. only one time did you talk to me about dying with an edge of fear - you wondered what i thought. i simply replied that daddy & grandma & grandpa had already tread the path Home. your smile at that thought lit the room. we had quiet days. we had crazy nights with friends visiting (those kind nurses just looked the other way!)
and then, one day D. & i were heading from the parking garage to the hospital for another visit with you when the Angelus bells began to toll. you were gone too & i knew it in that instant. but not really gone. i still FEEL you every single day. it is sad & yet happy too. really, all the things that mystified me about you just don't anymore. i feel you saying "all is well". oh, i miss your hugs more than i can tell i would scale a fake rock climbing wall (you know just what that would take) to eat your homemade macaroni & cheese one more time.
i remember doing the difficult task of going through your personal things. i remember finding that homemade birthday card from daddy for your last birthday.
i remember finding, at the bottom of all your important papers, the cherished note you meant for me to find when you would be gone from here. i read it often - with love and tears, days when i need a tangible boost. it was the most important thing i found among your effects.
today, on your birthday, i remember these beautiful memories & so many others with much love. Happy Birthday, Momma!
Eternal rest grant to them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.