Just recently, I was at Mama’s, and on occasion, Daddy and I will go through a cabinet or drawer and see what in the world she’d tucked away. In a cabinet we’d been in before was this photo, really big photo, hard to miss, but somehow we had. I don’t know that I’d ever seen it before and I had to stop and take it in. This is my Mama at the age she began dating my Daddy, just 18. The date indicates it might be her senior photo, a time when her family struggled so desperately, I’m not even sure how they had this done but thank God they did.
Earlier this week, I posted on Facebook about my first motherless Mother’s Day approaching. That word motherless nagged at me all day and I finally started to sob. I realized what I had said was not true. I realized that Mama probably begged to differ and probably shook her head and thought, “Well, just because I’m not there doesn’t mean I’m not… ‘there’. I didn’t live with you all these years, invest in your life, raise you, love you, to not leave my presence with you now that I’m gone. You’re not motherless nor will you ever be. I’ll always be your Mama and I’ll be your Mama when you get to where I am.”
I realized at that moment that I was far from motherless and would never be close.
No one could ever be motherless, right? It’s like the chicken and the egg, and I still don’t know which came first, but you get my meaning. We all have or had to have a mother to get to this place. She was the vessel by which God created us, He formed us in her womb. She was His before we were; she was His so we could become His. That’s sort of the biggest job on earth.
But back to motherless… never. Mama may not be walking on this planet in bodily form but she walks on this planet in everything I do. She watches me as I write this and cry like a baby, desperately wanting to hold her hand or see her smile or hear her tell me how to cook, a daunting task that never really worked. And she laughs.
Mama is in every room of her house, our house, the house she raised me in. I think for a while I avoided going there for that reason and it’s still hard. I see or talk to Daddy every day but walking in that back door is still the hardest thing on earth for me and I know that will change but for now, it’s hard. Tomorrow we will spend the day there and it will be hard. Yes, we’ll laugh and cry and remember, but that doesn’t mean it will be easy, just where we feel closest.
All those knick knacks, those darn roosters, which make me laugh, all those little odds and ends everywhere, she touched them all, she chose them, why we don’t know, but she did, so she is there. Mama’s lipstick, one I kept because I sent the other one with her, still rides in my car. She’s there. Her chair still sits on the deck right where she left it, her car is still in the garage. Her room remains untouched, her bed unslept in, her clothes still in the closet, her jewelry still in the drawer along with her makeup. And Mama’s pajamas are still on the shelf….and sometimes I just go open that closet and look at them, lay my hand on them, and remember helping her into them, buttoning her shirt, and her smile as I did. Sometimes in later months she’d give that quirky look and throw her hands up as if to say, “I don’t know why you’re doing this but, well, okay” and sometimes she put her arms on mine and would hold on to me as I held on to her, tighter as her strength faded away. She is there.
Mama’s at the beach in the house she helped choose, the house she helped fix up, the house that she worked Daddy on every time they went, poor Daddy. He’d fuss and she’d find something else for him to do. She was there the first time we went as a family in 1999, so excited for her grandbabies to have a place to go, and every year since. She fussed about the pink carpet that came with the house which according to Daddy was too nice to remove; thankfully we did:). She is in the kitchen whipping up lunch, in the knick knacks again, the little boats and odds and ends, the signs she found, thankfully no roosters, but she’s there. She was there in July when we walked her on the beach for her very last trip…. she is still there every time we pull in the drive.
And last Sunday, we visited, or should I say we went back to, Long’s Chapel, our home. We had no idea they were going to mention her in the service along with others who have passed this past year but they did, flowers up front, and chimes as they said her name. And she was there, in the halls where she spent time, loved on others, served her Lord, and in the kitchen and fellowship hall where she cooked and served alongside some of the most Godly women and Mamas I know. She was in the room where she helped me get ready for my wedding and on the front pew where she watched Daddy walk me down the hall. Yes, she’s buried beside that wonderful place, but she was in that place. I felt I was with her on Sunday and it felt good.
Some of these things are earthly, things we can touch, and some can only be felt with the heart. Memories….
With Alzheimers, memories are just hard to explain. It may be the same for those who’ve watched loved ones sick for years with any disease but for me, for us, it’s the pre-Alz memories and post-Alz memories. Right now I still struggle to get back to the memories before Mama faded away, it’s like we lost her so long ago and maybe grieved that loss to a certain degree. But right now I cling to the last few years Mama needed us so much. It was a time that we could give back to her a small portion of what she had given us. I’ll live in those right now, even those years have some of the most precious memories I possess, and time will bring it all back together eventually.
I am blessed while on this earth without Mama, she left many friends, and I have many Godly women, who have treated me like their own, who are always sending me a little message or card, or just sharing a hug when I see them. Because of them I have lots of Mamas who love on me in this time I am without my own, and I am grateful for every one. And I hope to do the same for others…. I can pass out good ol’ Mama hugs too and will share mine any time you need one especially until you get one from your Mama one day, you just let me know if you need one.
Today, I apologize to Mama for saying I was motherless. I know better. I know that because of her, because of the life she lived, because of the good Lord putting me in her life, I will never, ever be motherless. I’ll always have Mama. And on earth this weekend or in heaven one day, you’ll always have yours.
Happy Mother’s Day to all of you. Hug a little tighter, laugh a lot more, take LOTS of pictures, and if you need to cry, do it, but remember the memories and make new ones, so when you and I leave this earth, we’re still here, really, really here.
Love ya’ mean it:)