Mama will be gone a year next week. As many of you can relate, it seems like ten years and it seems like last week. Since she passed, we slowly but surely go through things of hers which never gets easier. It’s funny what you learn about someone, even those you’ve loved your whole life, from what they leave behind. Lord, the recipes and magazine clippings of things she wanted to buy, usually obvious gifts for someone (like me, her favorite😊) and little handwritten notes, tucked in every drawer, photos… And most of all, the cards she’d kept from people, including all of us, was unbelievable, drawers full, and sweetly, the blank cards were just as many, those she’d bought to send to others, notes she’d written to herself to send this person or that person a card. That was my Mama with that sweet distinctive handwriting of hers.
The odd thing with Alzheimers though is that those things seem frozen in time. They were there from the time she lost her memory years ago and were never moved unless she moved them, which she did in her fidgeting, but they were there for her right where she left them…. twice.
We’ve not brought ourselves to go through the closet in the bedroom yet. We’ve tried. Daddy and I have opened the door maybe twice, stood there in tears, and we shut the door. It’s almost as if as long as her clothes are still there, she’s still with us in the house. Time will allow it but not now and they’re not going anywhere.
Daddy and I opened her bathroom closet the other day where we had all kept her pajamas in those last years and the two or three pair of shoes that she wore, those that didn’t tie or zip, that could easily be slipped on, easy for Mama. I won’t let anyone touch her pajamas yet…. for some reason, those pajamas… I can’t think about them or touch them without feeling Mama’s presence and crying. I guess those are what I see her in those last few months as she puts her hands on my shoulders, as I help her slip into the pajama pants or button the top. I still see her looking at me so helplessly letting me help her, confused but loving me, scared but loving me, and just letting someone else take care of her.
As we stood at that closet last week, there sat her black leather clogs I’d bought her. She lit up when she saw them, much like she did everything, even if she didn’t like it, lol – it’s a Mama thing, right? But they were so easy for her to slip on and she wore them. They looked a little worn, not much, but for some reason I wanted them. The next morning before church I kept thinking about those shoes and as I got ready, I knew I was going to wear them. It’s hard for me to even type this now but as I started to slip them on, I couldn’t. I stood and looked at those shoes and sobbed as I’m doing now. I can’t explain it… All I could think was wouldn’t it be incredible if we could put on other’s shoes and feel what they were feeling or think what they were thinking and maybe that’s what scared me. I didn’t want to feel the fear she had to feel, the sadness she had to feel… if only I could have taken that away.
After a ridiculous amount of hesitation and walking around the house before leaving, I finally went back and got the shoes and put them on tears streaming down my face. As silly as it sounds over an old pair of shoes, there were my Mama’s…. I was so glad I kept them. If they in any way did allow me to feel her with me, those old shoes weren’t going anywhere.