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The Big Picture

Remembering My Mom

“Losing your mom is harder than you think it is going to be,” I reminded my friend recently, still raw from the loss of her own mom.

“You’ve got that right,” she agreed.

This time of year always gets to me– when spring is in the air, as the 17th anniversary of my mother’s death approaches. I will simply never forget her and all she meant to me.

In my mind, I saw her in the moon last night as it rose above the rooftops across the street. I cannot see a full moon without thinking of her. Maybe my memory deceives me (perhaps it was a dream?) but I remember my mom showing me a poem she had written about the full moon peering through the trees. Now a writer myself, I secretly hope I will discover it one day in some random box.

I see her in the ocean waves. Oh how she loved the ocean. And now that I am exactly four miles from Mobile Bay, I know she would happily, blissfully move in if she were still alive.

I see her every time a seagull flies overhead. I chuckle as I recall the time I came out of a beach bathroom as a kid and walked right into a flock. Consequently, they cut lose as the flew over me, bathing me in bird droppings. “Good luck!” my mother insisted. To which I replied, “If that is good luck, then what is bad luck?”

I see her every time one of my kids opens an umbrella in the house, hangs up the calendar before January 1 or a black cat crosses my path. “Bad luck. Bad luck. Turn around!” she use to insist.

I see her on her birthday, which we shared. It took me years to get use to celebrating without her.

The list goes on and on for all of us who have lost our moms, doesn’t it? 

Beach hats, I Love Lucy, lucky numbers (2-5-8), cheesy Sinatra movies, Red Sails in the Sunset by Nat Cole, and the orange haired angel ornament she gave me when I was little “because you’re my red headed angel”. I still have it.

But losing your mother, tough as it is, is simply a part of life. I am grateful to have had her for 37 years, as I went to school with a couple of kids who had already lost their moms. I simply don’t know how they managed.

I will take Dr. Suess’ advice and smile because of the those years I did have. I celebrate her every day becaue of the things she left me:

Atmosphere, atmosphere, atmosphere. It’s why I play Sinatra, Michael Buble’, Ella Fitzgerald and Tony Bennett. Every. Single. Day. While I am coking dinner.

No tolerance for sass. This is the biggest favor she ever did me– modeling no tolerance for sass from her eight kids as now I am the mom of ten.

Warning me ahead of time. “You never quit missing your mother,” she told me after I inqured as a kid if she still missed her mother, who died when I was six. Her words have come back to me many times, even released me from the unrealistic expectation of ever fully recovering now that she is gone.

I love you, Mom. I miss you.  And, Mom, I just can’t thank you enough.

If I had a day that I could give to you 
I’d give to you a day just like today
And if I had a song that I could sing to you
I’d sing a song to make you feel this way

And if I had a tale that I could tell you 
I’d tell a tale sure to make you smile
 And if I had a wish that I could wish for you
I’d make a wish for sunshine all the while

                   Sunshine On My Shoulders, John Denver

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