It's hard to believe it’s been two years. Two years since Mom breathed her last breath, just down the road from where she breathed her first breath 87 years before.
|Mom as a young woman|
|Mom and her sisters|
|Mom and her sisters about 25 years ago|
|Mom and my brother, Larry|
Snow covered her grave on the one year anniversary. I remember how much she hated the snow, hated winter, hated driving on slick roads. Summer suited her well. I remember the summer days she spent reclining on a blanket in the back yard, soaking up the rays. If I close my eyes, I can remember the fragrance of her suntan oil, mixed with the baking grass beneath her blanket. I loved sneaking up on her and spraying her with the water hose she kept handy to mist herself when the sun baked a bit too strongly. We both giggled and I ended up as wet as she.
|Mom, reading in bed while doing her beauty treatment|
|Waiting for a quiet moment to pick up her book|
In winter, when the sun barely shone, she huddled into her chair, wrapped in a blanket, in front of the heating stove and read books about castles and romance. Her Gothics, she called them. Years later she moved on to Stephen King and similar authors. She always had a desire to be scared out of her wits--and to share that fear with me. I remember sitting on the sofa late at night watching horror movies with her and then dreading having to go into my dark bedroom alone to find the string to the light bulb that dangled in the center of the room.
|Mom and me|
|Mom and me|
|A trip to Florida in the 60s to visit Uncle Johnny|
|A Mystery Trip I took Mom on to the Smokies|
So many things I now wish I had said to her. Also, quite a few I wish I hadn’t said.
She wore her opinions on her face like her favorite shade of lipstick. If she liked you, you knew it. If she didn’t, well, you knew that, too.
I didn’t know most of her friends by their names. I knew them by her nicknames for them. It was obvious how she really felt about someone by their nickname; like Blabbermouth or Stinky. When I chastised her for being so judgmental, she informed me she wasn’t judging, she was observing.
Dancing was one of her favorite pastimes. When the music started, she was on the floor dancing. She especially loved dancing with young men with dark hair and “hairy faces.”
|A kiss from a visiting singer|
We had a few adventures together. Like the trip she made to NYC to visit me. I took her to see "Dracula" on Broadway. She loved it so much that she insisted upon waiting outside the stage door to get Frank Langella’s autograph. When he emerged into the alley, she ran up to him for the autograph and when he leaned down to her five-foot frame to hear her talking in her Kentucky twang, she grabbed him and laid a big kiss on him. A few weeks later, Mom passed out in the streets of Harlan and Dad took her to the hospital. They discovered she had been hemorrhaging and needed a blood transfusion. I laughed and told her, “That’s what you get for kissing a vampire.”
Life is short. Grief is not. I still have days when I wish I could call her one more time. Hug her one more time. Shop until I drop one more time with her. Hear her stories one more time.
I recently spent some time in Florida during the Christmas season. I kept thinking how much Mom would love to be there, basking in the sun.
I still find myself picking up an item in a store and thinking Mom would love this and then remembering...
I thought it would get easier over time. It doesn't. I still have moments when my heart wrenches inside my chest like a wrung out dishrag and tears come. Thankfully, the space between those moments has grown longer.
I regret I didn't get to say good-bye. I wish I could have sat and held her hand during the process. I long to tell her I love you, Mom.
My joy comes in knowing where she is. I prayed for her salvation since I was twelve years old. I didn’t know until the last few days of her life that she was confident in where she would go when she passed. So, one day, I will see her again.
I miss you Mumsie. Keep dancing.
|Dancing at the Christmas party one month before she died|