When my dad began writing his book a couple years ago, he stated that he was doing so in order to keep the memory of my mom alive after her passing. At the time, I thought it was a sweet gesture, but also wondered if "fading memories" was more a sign of getting older than it was of just not having someone around. After all, my mom had been around my life, well, all my life, so I couldn’t fathom having such memories simply disappear.
I looked at the calendar this morning and saw that this is the third anniversary of her passing. As I think of Mom, my thoughts immediately go to that dark day three years ago when the Putnam County Hospital called me so early in the morning. I recall my mom phoning a couple of days prior and talking to my kids in a confused and desperate manner. I remember how she looked during the Christmas visit only a few weeks earlier. But beyond that, I realize that I have to strain hard for specific memories…the good memories. When I imagine "Mom," I picture her last days. And that’s not really the memory I should or want to keep.
But if you read above, I think you’ll see what my problem is. I stated that today is the third anniversary of her passing. An anniversary should be a celebration. Today is not such an anniversary. So I think I merely need to adjust my thinking. My mind is dwelling on when she left us, and not for the many years of her life before.
So after today, I’ll no longer mark January 22" on my calendar as I subtly do. I won’t forget the day, but I will forgive the day. It’s a day that an unfortunate circumstance occurred in my life (and others), but no more. What I’ll begin to celebrate more, even if only privately, will be July 9, 1934. That’s the day she was brought into this world, not taken out. Even more, I’ll celebrate October 31, 1962, for that’s the day I was introduced to her. If I dwell on those days, then the good memories will come back. I think Mom would appreciate me just moving on to the next day, and the day after that...embracing my kids as she did me and my brother...and just send a smile her way and remember the good stuff instead. I’ll begin to remember the woman who took me to swim lessons on chilly mornings and made me cocoa-wheats to warm me when I returned home. I’ll recall her bowling on her Tuesday morning and Thursday night leagues…and kicking ass. I’ll recall her making fudge for no reason at all after dinner. I’ll remember the taste of her Christmas tree cookie batter that I’ve never been able to duplicate. I’ll remember being slapped in the face for saying, "fart" when I was 10 (yes, that is a good memory…now).
I miss my mom…and always will. But every time I see my daughter smile at me, I know Mom is smiling too. (She has her "Mam-ma’s" eyes for sure). She’s not gone as long as the memories stick around. And as long as I cling to the good ones, and the one’s about her living life, they’ll stick around forever.