Saturday, October 09, 2010

Missing part of one wing

I miss Mom every day, but I miss her most on Sundays.

Sundays were when I had more time to spend with her, to have a leisurely lunch after church, and maybe take a drive through the prettiest neighborhoods of the city, or out in the countryside.

Mom loved riding in the car. She talked with me more, engaged with me more, when we were in the car together. I think this was a legacy of the necessarily long car drives she and my dad made on a regular basis out in West Texas. Iraan, the tiny town in which we lived, was -- as everyone joked -- 300 miles from EVERYWHERE.

Highway near Iraan

It took nearly a two-day drive just to get out of the state of Texas. So my busy parents found this time in the car as precious space in which they could talk, undisturbed except by the necessity to admonish the four of us squirreling around in the back seat to quiet down or -- ultimate threat -- "I will have to stop this car!"

On our drives, Mom would comment on the clouds -- Texas has fantastic cloudscapes -- or on the flowers in someone's yard. She loved hearing about my garden, so every Saturday, I would walk the garden making mental notes of things to tell her about at our Sunday lunch. She especially loved hearing about the plants that I had moved from her garden. If she were still here, tomorrow I'd be telling her about the pink plumeria that finally bloomed after three years and showing her the photos I took with my phone.

The only thing she loved hearing about more than the garden was news about Daniella, or about her great-grandsons, Curran and Gavin. As she did with all her great-grandchildren, she thought they were perfect and among the most intelligent beings on the planet.

On our drives she would talk to me about things she had read, or been thinking about. These were precious times to me, because as she got more frail, she got quieter, less inclined than ever to join into the boisterous conversation that characterizes our family gatherings. She was never one to talk a lot, so when she did, we all listened, because it was always a pithy, cogent observation. She didn't miss a thing.

It was on these car drives that she began to talk to me about how ready she was to die. Not that she didn't love us, but she was just tired -- and lonely. She missed my dad so much.

She told me she had had long conversations with God on the subject of her death. She told God how ready she was, how she was sure we would be OK if she left us for awhile.

I would listen and assure her that, yes, we would be OK, that she knew we would miss her terribly but we would be OK.

I lied.

It's not OK.

Mom, I saw this butterfly in the garden the other day.

It was still functioning, still flying from flower to flower, but it is missing part of one wing.

That's how I feel. I'm missing part of one wing.


Fred Schwartz said...

I know how you feel.

Dan Beavers said...

I lost my father over 20 years ago and I miss hearing his voice and his deep laugh. You captured the feeling so well in this loving tribute to your mother. What a very special woman she must have been.

EHC said...

My godmother died in 1993, and I miss her every day of my life. Still, she left a wonderful example of courage, cheerfulness, and generosity. What a lady!

janinsanfran said...

I know just how you feel Katie. Eleven years after my mother's death, I still feel as if I were missing a limb sometimes.

We're among the lucky ones to have had parents we can miss in an unconflicted way.

Sharae said...

I found this today, in February. I'm sorry about your mother, and sorry I can't relate to that part of it.

I drove through Iraan yesterday. One of my favorite things to do is go on long drives so I completely relate to that. I'm up in the panhandle, also 300 miles from anywhere, well, anywhere I want to go (specifically an Amtrak station which could get me to see my grandkids, both of whom live very near an Amtrak line). My friend and I wanted to go for a drive while the weather allowed and before the price of gas disallowed. We decided to revisit Sheffield to see how it had fared after a personal incident there 30 years ago. We chose another way back that happened to go through Iraan. It seems to be doing well. Compared to Sheffield anyway!