As many of you know, I lost my mom about a month ago and late last month we held a memorial service. How do you say goodbye to decades of love and care. I tried to put all that in words and I thought I’d share what I wrote.
In trying to prepare what I wanted to say, I ended up staring at my computer screen because nothing came. I wrote the words “Mom was.” And that was all that came and I didn’t know what to say. That’s bad… really bad because words are my life. I write thousands of them a day, a million of them a year and I couldn’t come up with what I wanted to say about… my mother.
After staring a while, I decided to go back to what I know and what I do. When I start a story, I begin with the characters and I smiled, because mom definitely was one. And I have the picture of her flipping David off because he made her eat a Brussel sprout, to prove it. So I went through the sheet I use to build characters and quickly discounted the mundane things, education, age, family, likes dislikes, strengths, weaknesses and so on. Coming to one of the questions at the bottom.
How do they show love? I have written entire stories about two people who didn’t quite understand how the other showed that most basic and the grandest of human emotions. This I knew and this got to the heart of my mom.
When I was about nine, Mom took up crochet. She made an afghan for dad, Dave, Mari, and me. This is it. Gotta love the seventies. After that, she sort of gave it up. I think because what she wanted to do was done.
At one time, mom took up ceramics. She made dad a beer stein, its still in the condo and she made each of the three of us a snowman music box. Mine is still with my Christmas things.
And of course mom cooked! She didn’t bake, Mom told me once that soon after she and dad were married, she baked him a pie. Dad didn’t like it. She never made another one…. But she cooked.
About twenty years ago, Dominic and I were coming to mom and dad’s for Thanksgiving. Mom said she’d make a turkey. I asked her to go to her butcher and get a rolled rib roast because I could be a heck of a lot more thankful over prime rib than I could over turkey. Let me tell you… best Thanksgiving ever.
In the winter she made endless pots of Chili and hamburger vegetable soup. Dominic still makes it for me, using her recipe. Because there is no other way to make it. Period. The beef scent floating up the stairs always reminds me of her.
Every Christmas mom made Chex mix, tons of it. Sometimes so garlicky your throat would close up. The scent of roasting butter and garlic filling the house always smelled like Christmas. That’s gone now. We can try to make it, but her secret goes with her. It will never be the same.
There is a concept in literature and romance, that I truly and passionately believe in. See as Christians we believe that the body passes… ashes to ashes, dust to dust… but the soul lives on and passes into eternal life. But when you die you leave something else behind… something more than the body, you leave the love. Its stays and lingers… its in afghans, and musical snowmen, in memories of thanksgiving prime rib, the scent of soup and Chex mix. That never passes away. You carry it with you forever.