So many thoughts have played in my head over the last few days. Mostly irrelevant but some that made my heart swell in my chest like soap bubbles filling and popping and filling again and again.
Monday was Lizza's birthday. We are so grateful that she will always be a part of our family. She is bright and beautiful and the greatest shades of red. We miss her.
We went to see Edge of Tomorrow and I was happy that it was still daylight when we left the theater. The bunnies ate my morning glory seedlings... all but one. Thank you bunnies.
Yesterday was busy. Thank you for wood bought. Thank you for the kind man who helped in loading...and thank you that Jules and I both survived the unloading ! (Hopefully we will survive the building )
So today before I tackle the housework and laundry and stack of unopened mail, I'm capturing a few of these random thoughts before they flee...and in keeping with Step 3 in the quest for happiness I want to write a thank you note to my Mom. ( I suppose it is a human flaw to believe that there is Facebook in Heaven and Mom can read this letter easier than she can read my heart. )
Surprised? Everything you suspected? All that you hoped? Shannon reading over your shoulder? Thought so ! I miss you guys.
I know you worried about our dysfunctional childhood, in those last days on the planet, so I want to reassure you, in a vaguely public way, not to worry. Something mysterious happens when someone you love is out of sight. At first everything bubbles to the surface. All of the hurts... the harsh words, the switches, the long hours, the endless fatigue... they surface first and like those brightly colored soap bubbles, they soon pop and disappear.
Unlike the moments that we build on. The ones we hold on to and make part of who we are and who we will become. Here are some of those...some I really remember, others I remember because you told me. You worked nights so that you would be with us when we were awake. You allowed a five year old to give you a home permanent with toilet paper and water while you tried desperately to sleep. You lost a child and somehow didn't lose your mind. You told me once that after Melinda returned to Heaven I was sitting on the kitchen table staring intently out the window and told you that I saw Mary and Baby Jesus and you were certain that I was going to die too. Then, the day you decided to cut down all the wild rose bushes from the back fence on the hottest day of summer and collapsed, and I sat with you. You asked me later why I didn't go for help. Of course I was only five...and my response was, "I thought you were going to die and I didn't want you to be alone."
After Candy and Johnny arrived hearts gently healed. You still worked all night, tended us as well as a home and garden all day. You somehow managed to can tomatoes and green beans, mow grass, grow flowers and make dresses. I remember the taste of a tomato off the vine, warm with summer sunlight, and shelling peas and the smell of fried potatoes and onions wafting across the backyard at suppertime. I also remember the feel of the lavender dotted swiss fabric that became my favorite dress, the one with the drop waist, stand up collar and long sleeves that I wore on my first real date.
Yes, you did demand a lot. Yes I got in trouble for everything my siblings did ! Yes I was the sassiest child in Culpeper County and yes you did tell me once that I was a "serpent unto your bosom. " You didn't think I really believed all that did you?
Once Shannon arrived, you loved her with all your heart...just like she loved you. Never once in all of her life did you say "no" if I needed you, or if she needed you.
When Shannon returned to Heaven, I knew what you had felt so long ago. What you had tucked into your heart's most sacred place in order to Mother us. I didn't understand broken until then...or what it would take to keep breathing. I know without doubt that had our lives been any different, any smoother or gentler... if Daddy had been stronger or sober, if we had been less dysfunctional in any of a thousand ways... I would not have survived losing Shannon.
And in all the years after... you helped me fill the empty spaces her absence left behind. Thank you. You were brave and selfless enough to intervene when that awful man stood ready to stab that young boy at the carnival fifty years ago, and determined enough to prove cardiomyopathy wrong. You are our best and most loved Gram and you needn't worry about how we grew up. We grew up strong and brave and tender, and wise and compassionate and generous and hopeful, like our Mother.
And although I promised that these photos would remain our secret, it is certainly a testament to the lengths a mother will go for her children... and I have to share.
Several years ago, when I was finishing a course in photography, I needed a St. Patrick's Day portrait. While we were shopping the Dollar Store one Friday after lunch, I had an idea. Mom agreed to be my model and with green eye shadow, green bubbles, hats, glasses and shiney ribbon the project quickly took a turn for the absurd. My adorable, almost eighty year old Mom got right into the spirit of the ridiculous and became my lepregram in the hemlock tree.
I'm not sure when we ever laughed so hard !
So here we are. I love you. I miss you. I cherish all of our Fridays together and I am now and for always grateful for you. Jan