It was a dozen years ago on a rainy spring day that Mom left this earthly realm.
I thought the rain would never stop.
I like to remember her as a young, hopeful, inspired soul, before she was burdened with the concerns and grief of adulthood that awaited her further down life’s road.
She was beautiful then, and in myriad ways throughout her life.
More beautiful in maturity than in youth, with silver hair, a chipped tooth and laugh lines.
All celebrating chapters in her journey.
Souvenirs collected along life’s path.
That’s the woman I knew best.
The soft countenance that comes to mind.
Her spirit left her body and flew through the mists of time, leaving us to mourn her passing, but knowing it was time for her to depart.
I told her in those last hours and minutes, as she struggled to both live and die, that she could go now, that we would all be fine.
I lied, in essence, to free her from the bonds that held her here in her broken body – her brain ravaged, destroyed by strokes.
Blind. Unable to talk, move or eat. Dying by inches. Dehydrating and starving to death. It was time…
The final breath of death was merciful.
One is never “fine” when their parent passes.
Yet, I told her to go, because my love for her was far greater than my pain.
And I know that her love for me transcends time, space and death.
I know she watches over me. I just hope not too closely and not too often.
My choices would not be hers.
I chuckle at the thought.
Assuredly, I would earn a finger-wagging lecture from time to time.
I smile though tears as I compare my brash directness with her consummate lady persona.
Perhaps two sides of the same coin. Genes expressed differently.
She was a tower of strength, forged by life’s misfortunes, her warrior’s sword hidden away until she needed to reveal it just long enough to slay the dragon at hand.
Then sheathed and concealed beneath her smiling Avon-Lady deacon-of-the-Baptist-church veneer, until she needed it again.
She would love you to death.
She would also, without hesitation, slice, dice and rice you if that’s what you deserved.
You never knew what hit you – or what happened to that nice little old lady.
Or, if a fool made the regrettable mistake of crossing someone she loved.
God help them.
Get. Out. The. Way.
We called it “whup-ass” on the farm, a term distinctly not lady-like, according to Mom.
Dad just smiled.
I doubt Mom understood the empowering strength of the example she spent her life setting.
Or, how, like the best inheritance, it would be passed on for generations.
I see her in my children.
In the wonderful adults they’ve become.
Standing up, always, for right, no matter how untimely or inconvenient the burden.
I see her in their faces.
The unruly curl of the front lock of my, and my daughter’s hair.
I see her in my grandchildren.
I catch a glimpse of her as they enter the stage in their dance recitals or drama club plays.
That’s her spirit, and she is there.
I hear her in their voices.
In their laughter.
See her in their smiles.
They are beautiful, talented and smart – oh so smart.
The promise of the future.
She would be proud.
The woman they will never know, but whose lifeblood runs renewed in their veins.
Nourishing them, just as she did me, a generation earlier.
They – they are her legacy.
I miss her this Memorial Day.
I will always miss her.
And love her.
That beautiful, hopeful, young woman so full of life, destined to become my mother.