My mom and me in our backyard
I am not sure why I have such a good memory. I think it may be because of my mom. She made the best memories. I remember things so vividly I can still taste the grape juice she always gave me when I woke up from a nap almost six decades later. I can smell the vanilla she always made such a big deal about us smelling together every time we baked. And I can even still smell the kiln that seemed to always have something in it during her ceramic phase when I was just a tiny little girl.
My mom died yesterday. She was a memory making mom. In turn, a lot of my kid’s memories are because I carried on the ones she made with me. She was a natural born artist as was her sister. My mom was always creating. She made all of my gifts for parties I was invited to, and all of my party favors. The flip side of having a good memory are the regrets you also remember about your own attitudes and the things you wish you’d said or didn’t say. Praying you said thank you enough or apologized for the things that you regret. I don’t think I appreciated not having store bought things to give my friends back then. But years later, my best friend told me that she was jealous of how talented my mom was while she only had store-bought things to give. Funny how as adults, we see things with a different clarity and appreciate now the little things that truly matter.
When I was in Junior High, my mom began painting and doing art shows and had quite a customer base. Though she had a lot of pain from having polio as a child, she was pretty active. We’d always help her set up her A-frames and sometimes she had every weekend a month scheduled with shows. Funny how now I am doing the same thing as has my daughter. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree and my mom planted many fruitful seeds in her life. She had an art room up to the very end that my daughter and my niece made special memories in as kids. My mom loved making memories for them too. Generously sharing her paint and sewing supplies. She was always trying to teach one of us to crochet. And setting up endless little tea parties. But the best seeds she planted were the ones rooted from her faith.
Everyone knew she loved Jesus. She made sure that we all knew Him personally and I have no doubt that the ones that met her when she arrived in heaven ran to greet her to thank her for planting those seeds in their hearts. In regard to Jesus, my daughter said, that she was His biggest fan. And my son said that out of all the people he knew who’d gone to heaven, he knew without a doubt that his grandma belonged there most. And my cousin said that it was probably a BIG DEAL when she arrived there. And we are comforted that our moms are together again, there now. She would always say “Take Jesus with you” when we’d leave. I began saying it to my kids when they learned how to drive. It’s just become the thing to say to each other now.
My mom lived a good life. She was 83. She had two great marriages and during her last years, I could not have imagined a more loving caretaker as my dad. Faithfully taking her to what they call the 2 store. Letting her buy whatever she wanted… even if they didn’t need it. Telling us it gave her joy. Because of her polio she had bad memories of being in a hospital. My dad took care of her as she slowly faded all by himself and thanks to the help of our little Amanda who shared her caretaking experience weekly and helped us get Hospice at the very end. My mom never had to go to the hospital. It was bittersweet. I knew that we’d miss her but both my dad and I and my husband prayed that towards the end she would go fast and not suffer long.
My mom was always my soft place to fall all of my life. It was hard when the phone calls stopped. I tried to help as much as I could. Tried to get the last conversations in while she still understood. To fit in all of the thank yous and I’m sorrys as much as possible. And to laugh and remember all of the memories. The last days were filled with visits from her grandkids and great grandchildren and all of her loved ones who gathered to love her one last time. Ironically there was a baptism at their house the day before she died. Her Pastor and his family prayed for her and the next day she went home to the arms of Jesus. And then, probably attended the best party ever.
Goodby mom. I’ll miss you. But because of Jesus and you, I know that we will be together again.