The spirits of the past call to me often. Usually, they sing to me late in the darkness of night. Mostly their songs are the sweet songs of a mother’s or grandmother’s love, long gone but not forgotten.
Their songs of “tough love” don’t come to me as readily as their “sweet love.” Stroking a fevered brow, mayonnaise and onion sandwiches, the sound of a hoe contacting a rock followed by the thud it makes when it is thrown out. A broad smile on a freckled face because of something I did right for a change, birthday cakes, Christmas ambrosia and Missouri cookies. Breaking beans on a front porch in the August heat…. Strange the ways you knew you were loved.
I only had my mother for a short time. She left me when I was a half year past my eighteenth birthday. Left me, my brother and my father. For much of the previous five years she battled ALS until the battle was lost in early January of 1969.
I strain to remember her…racking my brain. My memories are fuzzy and I hate that. I have pictures to remind me of her. Her red hair and freckles. The alabaster skin under her freckles turning lobster red after five minutes in the summer sun. A big smile and bigger laugh. A bit of shyness. Readying herself for work at a textile mill, draw in treads draped around her neck like a lei necklace. I wonder what happened to her reed hooks? They were always in her apron…I wonder where they are?
Mother’s Day is not a day of celebration for me, not a day of joy. It is memories of granite memorials in a small, country graveyard that is far from my home. Memories of funerals and pain. It is a day of questions. A day of “what ifs?” She never met my Linda Gail, she never met her grandchildren.
Today will come and go…and with it’s leaving the return of sweet songs from the past…and a brightening I hope. Momma and Nannie…I miss you both every day but more so on this day…Mother’s Day. Rarely is there a day that goes by that something doesn’t remind me of you. Mostly I smile…except when I don’t…but mostly I smile.