Sunday, April 1, 2012

# 239 - My Love for Mother

The close of March is always a difficult time for me since March 31st is the day my mother died. Of all the battles she had conquered in her life, to include Polio, it was breast cancer that finally consumed her warrior body and never-quit mindset.

My mom was truly a beautiful woman. The scars of life could not lessen her beauty.

Me at about three years old, my dad and my mom.
 At only 57 years of age, she died at home after she'd been constantly surrounded by loved ones.

My mom was about 35 years old here and my dad
was about 38 years old.
 My dad has dated several people since he lost his wife of approximately 40 years of marriage, but he's never re-married and will likely be content to focus on his family and remain a single man until the day he joins mom in Heaven. He told me that he's not interested in marriage any longer, it served his life for a meaningful purpose and he's not intending to start all over with someone new. That doesn't mean he's not able to find fulfillment and joy, it just means he won't have a marriage certificate applying to him any longer.

It's now been six years since she died and he's often been hit hard by the fact that his wife had been a woman full of passion and love. Sometimes he took that forgranted when she was with us, as most of us do when we have our loved one available to us as needed. She was eager for adventure. He misses this part of her the most. At a moment's notice, she was ready to pack their bags and head out the door with a huge smile.

Every year, dad took mom to the Texas Hill Country to see the Bluebonnets in full bloom. This yearly trip of theirs had been sacred. I think dad misses these poignant trips. Every time he sees wildflowers and bluebonnets springing up from the earth, he is pained, yet overjoyed at remembering their jaunts to admire God's carpet.

Shortly before my mother passed away, we'd made a day trip to our land to mow and before we left to head back to Houston, I stopped along the frontage of our acreage to gather a huge bouquet of wildflowers. It was one of the most beautiful collections of wildflowers I'd seen. I brought them home to her, put them in a vase and set it on top of her dresser for her to enjoy.

I knew she'd not be able to ever leave again for another trip to see her beloved wildflowers, so I brought them to her.

Stefie and Heather with their Grandma who they
loved more than any grandma can be loved.
This visit to the hospital to see my mother was difficult, yet full of smiles. We were at M.D. Anderson as she was having brain radiation for cancer growths near her brain stem. By this time, she had cancer all over her body...along her spine, in a femur, her ribs, her lymph nodes...everywhere. However, once it reached the brain, she became truly distraught. She had a Master's Degree and had worked to overcome Polio and be educated...her body had been ravaged by Polio at only five years old so her mental capacity for learning had been her treasure in life. She might not have been able to walk right and she didn't have the use of both arms, but she sure could out-think and out-smart anyone.

The radiation treatment used state-of-the-art laser beams that stretched several city blocks across Houston underground and the beams directly targeted the three tumors and zapped them efficiently enough to not destroy surrounding tissue. High science in action saved her from her worst fear coming to life before the cancer cells caused her death.

My mom and I had such great times together. We could talk about anything under the sun, stars or moon. She could tell me anything, and I could tell her anything, ours was a true two-way relationship. We wanted to spend time together. It's a huge blessing to consider your mother a friend and confidant. I feel very fortunate to have appreciated my mom and to have accepted her so completely...none of that ridiculous crap with expecting a mom to be perfect, but to just love her the way she was...all the good, all the bad...I loved all of her. Of course, she was just about perfect to all of us.

Deputy Dave and my sister, Robin, were taking turns having
their picture taken with mom. We all wanted our turn.
These days, I still miss not being able to pick up the phone and to hear her on the other end. I miss talking with her for hours about nonsense. I miss her coming to pick me up so we could go out to eat together. I miss going go the fabric stores together and to the craft stores together. I miss getting to see the next new beautiful project she would have surely painted. I miss seeing her with the grandchildren she adored, and my heart aches that she was never able to meet my niece Shaye. My sister had been expecting her first child when our mother died. Whoever said death was timed according to our desire? No doubt, our mom longed to meet Shaye. My sister had been fortunate enough to tell our mother that the baby was a girl and would be named for her namesake, Shaye. Mom never had words to express her personal grief, she'd simply raise a hand and lightly lay it against my sister's growing abdomen. No words were needed. In life, mom felt empty over this loss, but I hope in death she found the richest fulfillment possible.

My sister and I often talk to Shaye about her grandma, letting her know that grandma would have adored her to pieces. But, I know, if she could, mom would be with us. She had an uncanny way of making each of us feel as if we were the most special one in her life.

In part of sharing my mom, I am including one of her handwritten recipe pages that she jotted down for us. Here is her recipe for King-Ranch Chicken and Sour-Cream mom truly made the best biscuits on the planet. She was the best Southern Chef you'd want to meet. Dinner at our house always included Southern smells and tastes.

The Good Lord knows that there are a few people whose death has a profound impact upon us because these people shared our life with us in significant ways. We can't imagine how life can move forward without this person. After the loss of my mom in my 30's, I sometimes felt like saying, "Mom, but I never heard the rest of the story about Grandpa's war days, and I wanted to REALLY listen this time to the stories about our youth!"

She's gone and with her absence I feel the tragic loss of her friendship and of the information that we cannot grasp tightly because her personal stories are no longer accessible. Losing a loved one is kind of like a chunk of your history has fallen off and disappeared from sight.

Like mom's spirit that has fled, all the valuable historic information about our own family that she knew is out of our reach. It's yet another way to feel left behind.

To counteract this kind of pain, I've purposefully kept extensive journals. For years and years, I'd usually write in my journals about ordinary happenings of day to day life. However, I've decided to start a journal, in honor of my mother, to tell the stories that I know regarding our family and including my beautiful mother. One day, since I'm the oldest child and have more historical information than my younger brother or sister, it might come in handy or be interesting to those who would want to know. I guess the journal would be appropriately called a collection of short stories about the family. Oh how I wish to have one of these left behind by my grandmother or grandfather!

I'll do my part to give my own family a better written history with accurate personalization so that we'll have more to enjoy for historical reference other than birth and death certificates.

One of the reasons I'm eager to move to our acreage is that my mother had graced and blessed our land with her presence. This fact gives me tremendous joy! Years ago, we picnicked on our land together. She loved being in the midst of nature, she'd soak in nature wherever she could get it.

The city house where we currently live was purchased after mom's death. That's the way of the world; we might lose the ones we love, but we must continue onward. I believe we should live so fully as to honor our own life and the one of who is now gone. Live with DOUBLE fullness! Regardless, it will give me additional peace and contentment to know that my mom had enjoyed our acreage; she actually saw the home-site where we will be living for the last portion of our own lives. It makes me feel good to know that she had loved our acreage and that her voice had let go of soft words and soft laughter to float among the forest.

It just feels good to know that.


Karen said...

I am wiping the tears as I type this, what a loving tribute to your dear mother.

She was a beautiful woman, I can see the resemblance in you and your gorgeous daughters.

Hugs to you. said...

Karen, thank you --- us girls do have a lot of her in us. She must have had strong genes. My oldest daughter has her dad's height, but my mother's features. It made a nice combination. My youngest, well, she's just a clone of my mom --- if you see pictures of her when she was also 21, you can see the eerie resemblance.

Thanks for reading. I do miss her terribly. At least my husband took me shopping all day yesterday to keep me distracted. He was sweet.


Anonymous said...

Wonderful tribute...along with the journals which are also a tribute to her for your children. Beth