A MOTHER’S DAY LETTER
(Originally posted on the website Continuum…)
(This entry is a letter that was written by my Mom for my grandmother who passed away earlier this year. A brief explanation follows.)
This is my first Mother’s Day without you. It has been four months since your passing. I still think you are here for fleeting seconds at a time before reality sets in.
Eighty-eight years sounds like such an eternity. Fifty-eight years sounds almost as long. But that too has been fleeting.
Wasn’t it just yesterday when you took us to Hummer’s Beach? Wasn’t it just yesterday we had our Tuesday night tickling matches while Dad was bowling? Or at the cottage when corn on the cob was roasting on the fireplace or you were calling me in from the river? It can’t be that long since you made those beautiful gowns for my grade school plays or drove my friends and I to Mountain Lake to skate. Wasn’t it just yesterday when we sat on the beach together at Sea Isle City?
Everyone said I was tied to your apron strings. And they were right. I can remember hiding by your side when people would talk to me, hiding behind your skirt. We were two peas in a pod. Always having so much to say to each other every day. I miss that.
The memories of you and my childhood help to fill the moments of sadness when I remember you are gone. We laughed together all the time. Sometimes until the point Dad would get annoyed. Remember the days of jitterbugging in the kitchen or catching the runaway grapefruit in the motor home? Sometimes we’d laugh until the tears rolled down our faces.
I heard you call my name the other night while sleeping. I woke up startled and looked for you. My dreams of you are always comforting.
Sometimes I feel like an orphan at fifty-eight and wonder how little children survive when a parent dies. To have no parent alive is so odd to me. Even though you prepare for your parents death sometime during your adult life and make that thought go rapidly through your mind, you are never ready when it happens.
As I celebrate Mother’s Day this year with my own children, I cannot help but remember the example you set for me. I always admired the parental qualities of you and Dad. You showed me how to be loving, patient, unselfish, and understanding,compassionate,fair and most of all a good listener. To laugh at myself and have fun was most important. Having a strong faith is something you always showed and passed to me. It has sustained me through many trials when the light at the end of the tunnel seemed so far away.
We will celebrate with a picnic as we did with you both. You will be in my thoughts all day as most other days. The flowers I put on your grave will bring me joy and sorrow at the same time.
If I could have one wish it would be to have one more day with you to talk and laugh and enjoy the sunshine while sitting on the deck. We would celebrate “something” to have dessert with no calories. We’d complain about “Bush” and tease “Bushwacker” about him. We laugh ourselves sick when talking backwards. Only the two of us could understand it. We’d stay up late talking and watching TV. I would hold your soft hand and kiss your soft cheek and tell you goodnight. You’d say, “Thanks for everything” and I would say “my pleasure!”
So, my dear Mom, as I sit here with memories flooding my mind and tears streaming down my face I thank you for a wonderful childhood and for all the times you were my caregiver, confidant, healer, friend and clown. For all the values instilled in me to be a patient and loving mother and person I thank you and give you all the credit.
I know you are in a better place and enjoying a glorious day in heaven celebrating Mother’s Day.
With all my love…
Your loving daughter,
MANY OF YOU are aware that my grandmother passed away in January. She was a wonderful, caring, gentle woman. She was always supportive of all of her children and grandchildren. I wrote about these things around the time of her death in the following entries:
- “My Grandmother’s Passing” (January 9, 2001)
- “Flowers for my Grandmother” (January 10, 2001)
- “Pennies for my Thoughts” (January 11, 2001)
- “After Words” (January 13, 2001)
All of the qualities of Gram that are portrayed in this letter were a joy and blessing not only to her children, but also to her grandchildren and even her great-grandchildren. Even in her last months and days, she loved us all and was always happy to see each one of us. She loved the little ones. How she loved to hold them! She was always gentle and patient with them. She would let the little ones talk and tell her jokes. I will always remember how she sang children’s songs with my H and M shortly before she passed away, even though she was becoming increasingly weak and frail.
Mom and Gram shared very special moments while Mom cared for her as she suffered from cancer between August 2000 and January 2001. As mom said, they would think of just “anything” to celebrate. Mom also encouraged Gram to stay active. Though she was nearly blind, Gram insisted on at least folding the bath towels. She made Christmas ornaments. The days came when she needed constant assistance to move around. Mom would print out award certificates for Gram as she accomplished tasks that healthy people do not think twice about. I remember Mom giving Gram these awards during the summer Olympics. Once while visiting Gram on a weekend, I asked her how she was enjoying her stay at Mom’s. She replied, “The service is wonderful here. I highly recommend it!”
Gram was not one for complaining. But she was always quick to laugh. During the presidential elections last November, she did not want George W. Bush to win. Stepfather was voting for Bush. So Mom and Gram named him “Bushwacker.” And the two of them teased the poor guy to no end. Gram maintained her sense of humor through all that she suffered. She also maintained her mental faculties, except for brief times when the cancer affected her. I am convinced that she was aware of what was happening around her during her last hours. The night before she passed, she was so weak that she could not speak and could not focus her eyes to respond when someone spoke to her. She tried. Yet at one point, when several of the ladies present were trying to turn Gram onto her side and were laughing at their inability to coordinate the move, Gram laughed out as well. How happy we were to hear it!
My last memory of Gram is of the final time that I was able to tell her that I loved her. I kissed her forehead. Said, “I love you, Gram.” In her weakened condition all she could do was slightly raise her eyebrow. Satisfied that she had heard me, I said good-bye. I left that room thankful that this precious woman was my grandmother.
I thank my own Mom for having the courage to write this letter and to allow it to be shared with others. I am proud of her. I would not trade her for the world!