and then there was the 81st birthday party where things were starting to fall apart a little bit. And four months later she was dead.
And I think I'm still in shock about it. A few weeks ago I made up my mind that I was not going to dwell on the last time I saw her. Every time that image of her actively dying came into my mind I chased it away. And now it actually seems to be a little big easier. But today I miss her ... a lot.
In the weeks before Mama died, we always, always made a point of telling each other "I love you." We always did that before anyway, but it was more intense, and more urgent once we both knew the end was coming soon. From Mama, I took that "I love you" to also mean, "I forgive you; the past doesn't matter; you'll always be my baby." And I've hung on to that over the past four years. I was a good daughter. But I was also selfish, self-centered and self-righteous to her many times. I think back to my younger self and some of the things I thought about or did to my mom and I just want to go back and shake myself hard.
For example, Mom LOVED to tell people about me. She could give a complete strange the one- minute version of my curriculum vitae and all of my accomplishments and all of the KIDS' accomplishments in just a direct, matter-of-fact, motherly way. She was proud of us. She was proud of me. And I didn't appreciate it at the time. I winced when she started in on that or I would try to interrupt her. When she was in a wheel chair once I even started to take her away (although she put her feet down and stopped me quickly, nearly knocking us both over!)
I also miss the phone calls. The early morning call that could only be her, the "something is good on t.v. right now" phone call at odd times throughout the day, and even her "what are you doing?" calls that checked up on me. They bothered me at the time. What I wouldn't give to talk to her one more time.
I miss her.
Tonight my sister and I will go out to eat to celebrate mom's birthday. We always took her out for her birthday so we are really just continuing a tradition. We'll laugh and maybe shed a tear or two. I'm taking a small picture of her for the table just for the occasion.
This picture represents one of my favorite memories of Mama from when I was little. She loved to take me out for walks around our farm. She told me stories, and taught me songs, and let me play with the cats and look at the cows. A simple wonderful memory. And I remember her young too. The only time I really saw her was old was just a few days before she died. Until then, I sort of always saw her this way.
So Happy Birthday Mom. And Rest in Peace.
Gregorian Masses for her birthday this year!