Late last week I looked at the calendar and recognized the soon arrival of March 19. The day was coming, and coming without any fanfare. It would be the eighth time the day would come as a marker, urging me to remember my mother and her passing.
In all earnestness I ask: where does the time go?
At odd moments, I’ll still hear my mom’s voice, singing in my ear. I’ll see her slender finger warning me against some wrong-doing. I’ll feel her tender hand across my cheek.
At other times, I flip back through memories of Mom standing in her kitchen, apron secured over her morning robe, frying eggs for Dad’s breakfast. Mom, bent over garden tomato plants, gathering the bounty that would soon be gleaming in jars fresh out of a canner. Mom, shaking her fist at the card player who would dare lead trump in a ‘fight to the death’ round of ‘Oh, hell!’ She was a character, my mom.
Just last week, as I looked at the calendar, I noted in a text message to one of my mom’s favorite grandkids (one of my own sons, of course), the eight years sometimes feel “like just yesterday — the heartache of it all. Other times, it feels more like a lifetime, and I have forgotten the things that I should remember.”
Fragments of conversations. Photographs marking occasions sometimes small and sometimes significant. Snippets of memories. Remembered advice and shared laughter. A phone message on an answering machine of Mom singing “Happy Birthday.” These are the treasures that remain.
Some days, those treasures are enough.
But not today. Today marks the beginning of the ninth year without her.
Like John Ames in Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead, I realize: “When things are taking their ordinary course, it is hard to remember what matters. There are so many things you would never think to tell anyone.”
Oh, for one more ordinary day. To the extraordinary woman who was my mother, I would remember to tell her what matters.
Thanks Mom. I love you forever. See you soon.