Today is my mother’s 85th birthday~she is celebrating in Heaven with my father, her parents and various family members of the feline and canine community. My mother was a skilled, if unpublished writer, and any talent in that department I owe to her, and Him, of course. An Empath who falls apart at the first sign of the full moon, I have been crying too much lately. I want to honor my mother by keeping the peace and quiet…no drama, no hysterical phone calls, no hidden agenda.
I prayed before writing this, as I want to give her the gift of an essay that does her soul justice, a daunting task if ever there was one. This morning was a testament to the love that only a mother can give. I am so thankful for your gift, mom. I hope these words give testimony to the amazing mother you were, and are to me.
I had a few tough days. Releasing pain is getting old. When I bleed in the unseen places of my heart, I rage at the world; the past few days have been full of angst and sadness. I woke this morning at 5:45 a.m. I used to marvel at my mom’s ability to wake at the crack of dawn, to have her coffee and sit with God awhile. She was always happy in the morning, and to an anorexic teen, this was often hard for me to take. Now I relish the mornings-the peace, the faith that the day is fresh with hope and wonder, no matter how bad the night before had been. I logged onto Facebook, deleted a few egregious posts from yesterday, and set my heart and soul to the task at hand: finding music, memes, anything that reminded me of her and the love and strength she embodied in the face of chronic, debilitating illness and depression. To this day I miss her when I am sick, as she had mastered the art of caretaking……as a child, home sick from school, I could smell the aroma of her cooking, (she was a master at this as well) safe and sound in the knowledge that I was loved. She always bought us (my brother, sister and I) a gift at the store, catered to our every whim, and made our favorite foods if we were able to nosh in the midst of our malaise.
After choosing a few songs (Love Can Build a Bridge, The Rose, and a haunting song my brother wrote after her death, Mary) I headed up the stairs to put on my hiking gear. Still weeping from the music, I noticed the shirt I had worn yesterday-thrown over my childhood desk-it took me by surprise as I noticed the intricate weave of the pattern of roses, synchronicity at its best. Recovering from a cold and not in the mood to travel, Jesse and I went to a nearby field, a favorite of ours for hunting deer sheds. To fully understand what transpired next, you would have to have known my mother’s (now my own) dry, Irish sense of humor. The things that made her, us, laugh may be mildly disconcerting to the next fellow, but life has taught me to treasure that humor, as it comes in handy at the oddest, rawest moments.
Jesse (my golden retriever) and I hunt sheds in the Spring. We haven’t had any success this year, and I attribute that to the fact that we had a very mild winter, the deer are nourished and well fed. And then it hit me: Sweet Jesus, Mary and Joseph: how do we know for sure that this is not excruciatingly painful? I mean, could you imagine waiting for a part of your skull to fall off each year? And then release, laughter, finally…pant peeing, raucous laughter. How horrifyingly funny………..as I looked up to smile at mom, I saw an intriguing scene in the sky. Two snow geese flying in one direction, coming directly toward two snow geese flying in another…..it occurred to me that they were going to clank heads, and if you are an Elkins, that prospect is funnier than the average Joe can imagine. I smiled, thanked mom, and looked up again-no geese; they had disappeared as quickly as they had manifested in my head.
We took the rest of the hike slowly. Each step was thought out; I wanted Spirit and my mother to direct my path. We came to an area so daunting that I rarely follow the path. Boulders, moss and treacherous terrain, followed by a creek crossing-“I don’t wanna,” I whined out loud. Feeling a quiet nudge, I did what I was told and crossed the abyss with abandon. There it was, not fifty feet away. An antler shed, a two pointer. Filled with joy (I know, it doesn’t take much) I ran for it. Not this year’s shed, the mice had had their way, but I was thankful nonetheless.
I bent down to put Jesse’s collar on, it was time to go home. Looking up I saw my friend and neighbor coming back from a walk with her pooch. She has recently lost two of her children, dogs yes, but children nevertheless.
“Michele, I cannot explain this feeling, and I know I told you we would never get another dog again…..but the other day, when I came home….I had this hope, this space in my heart is finally ready to add a new canine to our brood. I know, it sounds crazy….,” her eyes overflowed with tears only a mother can shed.
“Absolutely not! I know exactly how you feel.” And we said our goodbyes, my friend Rose and I, going our separate but oh so kindred ways.