Nineteen

25 Apr

2 days.

I can place myself in my mother’s shoes. Watching the grass spring into place from the picture window in the front of the house from her vantage point on the borrowed hospital bed. The legs of which dig divots into the plush carpet that will take 2 weeks to fully disappear. Her breath won’t remain in the house that long.

I can hardly remember the last two days, merged as they were into the days that came before. The emergency ambulance rides, the hasty packing, me slipped to the side, quiet so no one would notice. I hardly remember our family as a foursome, as a team, together, as we were meant to be. There was a crack in that picture already, a crack dug deep with cancer and hopelessness and dreams.

My memories, like Mad’s, are sparse, but thankfully, I have a few that are golden. The crackling late afternoon light pouring in the side windows as I tried on new clothes at 6 or 7. Chocolate covered fingers in the kitchen, licking the bowl, watching my mother bake and cook and feed the people who would come to feed up, the stereotypical casseroles splayed across our doorstep, cards attached, pieces of tape on the bottom of the cheap ceramics with names, “Brenda”, “Mrs Bishop”. Driving to Kingston in her blue car, holding in the nausea, not wanting the Pepto Bismo that would make it all the more worse.

I remember her hand, and mine it it. A downtown street, a sunny warm summer morning, her soft sandals slapping her feet, her dress swinging. Stopping to talk. Stopping to talk. A warm muffin and ginger ale at the cafeteria in the store my father ran, the laughter of a group of women as they talk above my head.

The warmth of her hand, the strength of it. The softness, the yielding, the smell of her hand creme, the Charlie on her neck.

I don’t remember hugging my mother, or kissing my mother. She wasn’t affectionate that way, not that I can remember. But lord, she was lovely. She was womanly and graceful and strong and sweet, in her way. She was kind.

In the summer, we’d sit on the front step, await the squirrels who would inevitably come to her, who would climb on her shoulders, snatching peanuts from her breast pocket, the breast that would eventually come off and be replaced with a facsimile I would play with. She never worried that they would bite her.

“Sit still and they’ll be gentle” she’d remind me.

And it was true.

She loved to laugh. She loved to prank. From kinking the hose until I’d stand over it so she could let loose the water then, to sitting in the front row at mass, marking the sermon with friends to rapping on the wall, making me believe in witches, she had a devilish sense of humor.

I think of these things instead of the 2 days before. Instead of the cold dampness of the stairs I sat on. Instead of the panic and fear and terror that ran through our house, circled the voices telling me the just go to school, rang through my head when I was pulled out during spelling by one of her Priests, taken to a car to silently watch the highway with my brother as we drove to what we knew was inevitable.

I shall think of none of these things. I shall think of my mother as the woman who loved me, who craved me, who wanted me. The woman who loved her little girl, who taught her that glasses can sing, who taught her that strength isn’t only measured in muscles. I will think of my mother who my first born is named after, in part. I will think of my mother as the vibrant woman introduced me to Hitchcock as a child, yet refused to let me read Frankenstein.

My mother, Dianne Joanne Marie, has been dead 19 years 2 days from now. And I miss her still, as I always will.

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13 Responses to “Nineteen”

  1. merseydotes April 25, 2008 at 12:59 pm #

    Your mother sounds like a wonderful person. That’s a lovely photo – your girls really do look just like you.

  2. marcelarhodus April 25, 2008 at 4:45 pm #

    no matter how much time it goes by, her place will always be there and she will never leave you… like that song I think of when I remember my mom says “a part of her will never die, and that’s what makes her invincible”. Your mother will never really die as long as she lives within you… she will remain invincible.

    she has such a sweet expression in her face, she really does. A beautiful face. and you look like Vivian in that picture πŸ™‚

  3. Bon April 25, 2008 at 4:56 pm #

    the “Charlie” on her neck…for some reason that was what swept me back twenty-plus years, almost made me imagine she was in front of me and i could know her. this whole post made me feel a little like i could know her. thank you.

    she left you many rich things. and without so much else, through no fault of her own. you do a beautiful job capturing the two here.

    late April…filled with shadows and longing all over, it seems.

  4. Bon April 25, 2008 at 4:57 pm #

    oh and you? adorable.

  5. daisybones April 25, 2008 at 8:18 pm #

    I love reading this, and seeing your memories like home movies in my mind- you describe them so vividly! And seeing her photo, and reading her name. It’s beautiful, all of it.

    I hate that you have been without her so long, that you were so young.

  6. sweetsalty kate April 25, 2008 at 8:59 pm #

    Such a heart you have, thor. I really love seeing your family.. there’s such a spark in your mom. I’m looking forward to seeing that same spark in you, in person. πŸ™‚

    And it is INSANE how much your girls look like you. So sweet.

  7. karen April 25, 2008 at 9:34 pm #

    What wonderful memeories . You made me remember things I had forgotten about my mother. Thank You for that. Aug 28 will be 19 years for me aswell since I lost my mother , I understand the pain , I know the tears you have shed . I wonder will it ever get easier to not have them around ?

  8. Jennifer April 25, 2008 at 10:20 pm #

    Your girls ever look like you.

    <>

  9. Bon April 27, 2008 at 8:39 pm #

    just checking in, because i guess today really is nineteen.

    thinking of you, and of your mom.

  10. Mad Hatter April 27, 2008 at 10:24 pm #

    This was powerful, Thor. I hope that today brought some peace and that the rush of good memories kept you warm despite the hurt.

  11. Mad Hatter April 27, 2008 at 10:24 pm #

    Oh and thanks for the picture. It was lovely seeing your mother’s face and your sweet childhood one.

  12. Jason Dufair April 28, 2008 at 11:00 am #

    Hope you got through yesterday ok, Thor. Nice to see a pic of your mom. She was really beautiful, for sure. Your babies sure do look like you. Glad to hear you’re enjoying the quiet in your head too. It’s nice to find some peace.

  13. thordora April 28, 2008 at 11:02 am #

    thanks all!

    I’m surprised no one mentioned that we all look possessed….:)

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