Tuesday, May 23, 2006

A Belated Mother's Day

On Mother's Day, my mother gives me flowers.

The majority of my garden is plants that I haphazardly dug up from my late mother's garden in a last-minute, hot, buggy frenzy the afternoon before closing on the sale of her house. The garden is where I felt connected to her after she was gone.

She died unexpectedly and most of the plants were a mystery to me until they bloomed last year. She was proud of her prolific yellow lady slipper that is blooming by my sliding glass door. She would have called me up and told me how many slippers were on it, and then complained for at least 20 minutes about the woodchucks and moles and squirrels. "There's a whole army of them, Beth. Laugh all you want."

While I am so glad I took some of the plants with me, and I love seeing them come up, it does make me miss my mom. And dealing with the recent loss of my friend Jim and missing my mom, and thinking about whether to have a kid and all this triggered a very emotional experience last night which has inspired me to share this picture of her.

I was lying on the couch and I thought I heard someone say, "Look who's here!" and my mom walked into the living room. Mom! I yelled. Mom? She walked past me smiling at something. She had gained some weight, but looked soft in a grandmotherly way, and was wearing a white fuzzy sweater and had her hair in a nice looking tight perm close to her head. She didn't stop. She bent over and was looking at something. Mom?! Mom!? I screamed. I grabbed her in my arms but she kind of disintegrated and then I started to come back to consciousness and then her head felt like maybe it was really a cat head in my hand and then I was just in my bed and there wasn't even a cat in my arms. I think I woke myself up yelling.

This really rattled me. Often when I dream I kind of know I'm dreaming. I even rewrite endings to dreams sometimes. I didn't have any of that sort of awareness when she walked in. I really thought I was on my couch and so that little piece of my brain that thinks maybe she's just on vacation and might show up anytime (I still have that even though I found her dead in her house) worked on me I guess. I only envisioned her one other time and it was not long after her death when I had more nightmares. In that one she came to the spot I had chosen to get married in (she was waiting for me to pick a place and date when she died) and looked around with me, looking out over the lake and nodding quietly. I could smell her and see even the tiny hairs on her cheek that time. This one last night was less vivid but really freaked me out nonetheless.

I don't have a lot of pictures of my mom from my childhood anymore, as most of them were destroyed during my parents divorce. However, I found this one at her house and it is from us being happy together and I keep it by my bed, since I sometimes forget those times. Judging by the fact that I'm wearing my brother's handed down Bicentennial type t-shirt and my missing tooth, my mom is around my current age in this photo. Later she would gain a lot of weight and battle a lot of psychological and physical demons.

I felt so solid with my emotional relationship with my friend Jim; I had long since said in a million ways all the things I wanted to say to him. We had years to talk about everything, knowing he was on a fast route out. I had a well-appointed shelf all decked out and prepared in my emotional being somewhere where he fits. Moms are so complicated to begin with, and with my mom's death being so sudden and traumatic, I guess I'm going to run into her in the empty spaces until hopefully I find the place for her to settle into too.



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