Friday, March 30, 2007

Mother

I've felt keenly of late the loss of my mother. In those few words I try to encompass much. There is history and hate, tears and love, anger and comfort. We battled one another and served one another in turn until, in the end, there was little to be said outside of small touches and looks. Ah, even now the tears come...

She came from that mad Welsh stock that traipsed across the pond and landed, eventually, in Ohio. With her and down through to me comes the old Welsh madness and that touch of the Other. I can look at old photos and see her face in the pale, wrinkled flesh of women long dust.

There is something in that history, that ancient and thin lineage that echoes inside me and I am thankful to have gotten it even if it has leant to me a sort of difference and a lack of satisfaction with this world and time. And I think it gave much the same to her so that she was always a bit scornful of life. Perhaps, too, she hadn't the willingness to consider it - that echo inside - for what it might be.
I know, though, that she was brave. She went through agonies that I would not. She took one disappointment after another and was still able, in the end, to smile softly and curve her gaunt hand around my cheek. We were the closest, I think, of all the girls. To me she would give her complaint and her courtesy. And I tried very hard to be a good daughter even though I know I failed her more often than not.
There was once - ah, memories come to me lately that I had long forgotten - once a time wherein her beloved became a monster. I stayed to my room, music and writing my only solace. Oh, they were horrid little chapters full of Romance novel fluff and drama. But she came to me one night and held the papers in her hand - "You write very well. You should do more of it." I blushed and recoiled, the thought that someone had read that stuff bringing much shame. But she just handed them back to me kindly, a soft brush of her hand over my hair and a kiss on the head before leaving my room and returning to her own wherein a waking nightmare lived.
There were other moments, too, which were just our own. I was moving, leaving behind that marriage home and after long days of packing and troubles, I stood at the top of the stairs and just...could not do more. I looked around me in fear and confusion. But there she was, in the doorway of the bedroom and I went to her as though a child again, tears and sobs rolling like a tide into her warm shoulder. She shushed her man, this one fine and gentlemanly, as he came up the stairs unwitting. Her hand fluttered in the air - I could see it off to the side - telling him to move along a time. She let me cry and cry and then wiped the tears away. "Better? Well, good. It's all going to be fine, you know. Now, let's get this last of it and go, okay?" God, I can hear the words and see it clearly in my mind.
Stages and snippets of our life together coalesce and form in my mind so that I pick and choose them now and then and wade into it, letting the sadness and tears come. I remember well how she ate that last meal with us - it was lovely roasted chicken and mashed potatoes. She ate so little those days - perhaps a bite of applesauce now and then. But of this she ate spoon after spoon as I sat there in the small chair at her bed and fed her. The roles reversed, I did not mind. It seemed the most natural thing in the world. She watched me intensely and, as I said, we communicated in the smallest of ways.
But even that time had to end and I saw as we prepared to leave that she had so little fight left in her. If we had known how little, I'd have made my proper farewell but just as was her way, she didn't press for it. She hinted - I told her we'd be back in a month - but she said she didn't think she'd be here. I told her that was nonsense and gave her another kiss as she watched us leave, curled around in that bed to see us. I wish even now that I could race back for another kiss, another hug and smell of her. Another hour of mashed potatoes.
This Mother's Day I shall buy carnations and tulips in her honor but sooner still, some for her graveside which we shall visit in a few weeks as we install the plaque I had made. Her birthday will come just before and I shall honor her in her own small town. With love I shall wend my way to her small plot and try to remember again each sigh of wind and toss of the trees. And in that moment remember to thank her for the lovely memories. I miss her so. If there is an Afterlife, I dearly hope she's the first one I see. I've so much to tell her...

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