Saying Goodbye to My Mom

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.

7 Responses to “Saying Goodbye to My Mom”

  1. Barbara Alfano

    Honey you are so right, memories are so precious, but when your young, you don’t know it! Never let them slip away!

  2. Renee Baugh

    My condolences to you and your family at the passing of your Mom. I am glad you were able to find your words as I’m sure they comforted you in your grief. I have found that when you talk about her with your loved ones and anyone who knew and loved her, you will continue to find comfort. I lost my mom when I was 19. She never knew my kids or grandkids. But on her birthday, Mothers’ Day and her death day, my siblings and I conference and talk about her and our relationships with her. Guarantee, I learn something new every call. We laugh. We sniffle. We argue about the accuracy of our memory. We cry and we fall in love with her all over again. I talk about my Mom with my kids and grandkids. When I expressed regret that my kids would never know my mom, my daughter told me that they knew her from the stories I told and the words I spoke. It sounds like you were Blessed with an awesome Mom also. Sorry for the TMI, but be Blessed!

  3. Donald

    Andrew. I can’t comment without telling you that your work will be the love you leave behind to many of us who will never know you, but whose lives you’ve touched and changed for the better. As another “Donald” who is also a child welfare worker in Oklahoma, I so appreciated your Fire & Ice book (in particular). It was a bit eerie reading it for reasons which I’m sure are pretty apparent. I can’t imagine being without my mom who is in her 80’s and a cancer survivor. I’m so very saddened by your loss. I don’t know if it would be of any comfort, however, when I suffer a loss I don’t think I can weather, I remember this from Kahlil Gibran: When you part from your friend you grieve not. For that which you loved in them may become clearer in their absence, as the mountain to the climber, is clearer from the plain.

  4. Martin

    Ma was 96 when she passed. A few tears shed at her funeral. I remembered what she always said, Be happy, enjoy what you’re doing and be kind to all those you meet. There are good memories of her as every day passes. My thoughts and condolences are there for you.

  5. Diane

    Sorry to hear about your Mom. Lost mine five years ago, so I understand how you’re feeling. Even though it hurts, it really does help to talk about her to your friends and family. Doesn’t seem like it would, but it takes some of the devastation away. I think my brother summed it up best when he said that our mom’s death “broke the foundations of our lives”. Five years later, the pain is less, memories can be recalled mostly without tears or that raw pain, but the foundations will be forevermore broken. Most important thing is to give yourself time to grieve, to cry, and to miss her. You won’t regret it, I promise. Many hugs!


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