Thoughts on Momma


Whether you are five or fifty-five, the death of your mother has a profound affect on you. Whether you had a close, intimate relationship with her or had the relationship from hell, when your mother dies, something in your heart/soul cries out, "No!"

~~~~

Momma loved to shock. Just a few months ago, as we were leaving the nursing home after a visit, she patted the male nurse on the bottom as I wheeled her to the elevator.

"Momma!" I cried.

She giggled and said, "He didn't even turn around!"

I looked back at the nurse and he was simply smiling and shaking his head.

As the elevator doors began to close, I said, "Behave, OK?"

She gave her most mischievous smile and said, "Not if I can help it!"

~~~~

I must have been about three because Barry was an infant and Momma was pregnant with Timmy. It was one of those summer days that happen every once in a while when the air, the temperature and the weather are perfect.

Momma took us for a walk down to Castle Island (South Boston). We got dressed up, special. I had on a pretty sailor dress with matching sweater and hat.

Looking across Boston Harbor at the sunset, I remember telling Momma that I matched the sky. "Yes, it is a tomato soup sky," she said.

To this day, each time I see a 'tomato soup' colored sunset, I remember that golden summer evening at Castle Island.

~~~~

There were times when we were growing up that money was very scarce. However, I never thought of myself as poor, mainly because Momma always managed to make us feel rich.

Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches were the food of kings, according to Momma, as was chicken soup, homemade spaghetti and meatloaf.

One Christmas, Momma told us we were going to do things the way our family did them long ago. We were to have an Old Fashioned Christmas. It was an adventure.

We made paper chains for the tree. Cut up old cards to make new Christmas cards. Lit candles for light while Momma made presents by hand. On Christmas day, my brothers had handmade cowboy vests and I had a new rag doll...all handmade by Momma who used old clothes and scraps of cloth. It was magic!

I never knew until I was an adult the conditions surrounding our "old fashioned" Christmas...we had no electricity, no coal for heat and little food.
You can imagine my amazement when, 40 years later, Momma told me how she wasn't sure if we were going to be able to have a meal, let alone presents.

~~~~

Sister Ralph was sitting beside me as I regaled my girlfriend with tales of how my mother did things. I was putting the finishing touches on a lace hanky, something Momma had taught me to do when I was quite young. "My Momma can do anything," I was saying. "She is so smart! She knows the answers to everything!"

After a bit, Sister leaned over to look at my lace. "That beautiful, Linda," she said, "Your Momma must be proud of you."

I looked at her puzzled. "Proud" was a new word for me. I had never heard it before. When I told Sister this, she simply told me that she knew my mother was proud of me, even if I had never heard her say it.

I was 11 at that time. It took my Momma another thirty years to say the words, "I am proud of you." They were music to my ears!

~~~~

How many times had I heard, "Wait till you have children, then you'll know..." What I would "know" depended on the circumstances at the moment...know what it was like to have a child ask so many questions, know how it was to have sick children, know how frustrating it was not to have enough money, know how difficult it was to say "No."

As a young woman, I often thought that I would never do or say the things my Momma had done or said to me. Yet, more times that I would like to admit, I found myself saying things like, "No, you cannot do that...because I am the mother, that's why!" or, "Goodness, did you get inoculated with a phonograph needle? Don't you know any other question but 'Why?'" or, "I am so disappointed in you!" (This was the worse thing I could say to my girls. Fortunately, I didn't say it very often.)

Now that I am a grandmother, I have to laugh. Momma's wisdom, her comments, her "Momma-isms are now uttered from my daughter's mouths to my granddaughters. Life has come full circle.

~~~~

Just before her death, I spoke to Momma on the phone. It was difficult getting a call through to her. I had to enlist the help of a sympathetic aide who held the phone up to Momma's ear.

"Hi, Momma," I said in my most cheerful voice, "It's me, Linda."

"Well," she said in her most sarcastic response, "I didn't think you were Barry!"

As sick as she was, she still was cracking jokes! I laughed, medicine for both she and I, and then told her I loved her. I said something about not wanting to tire her out and that I would send her lots of healing energy. She made no response.

The aide told me she was just sitting and not talking. I said, let me say good-by, so she held the phone up again. "Bye, bye, Momma," I said. "I love you, bunches!" She gave a weak, "Bye, honey."

This was our last conversation.

~~~~
Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there, I do not sleep.

I am in a thousand winds that blow,

I am the softly falling snow.

I am the gentle showers of rain,
I am the fields of ripening grain.
I am in the morning hush,

I am in the graceful rush

Of beautiful birds in circling flight,
I am the starshine of the night.
I am in the flowers that bloom,

I am in a quiet room.

I am in the birds that sing,

I am in each lovely thing
.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,

I am not there. I do not die.

Written by Mary Frye - 1932

Comments

Maryam Dilakian said…
Oh, Linda, what a beautiful, beautiful entry...
River Studios said…
Such touching and wonderful stories of your mother and you, Linda. Beautiful conveying of the stories of her/your life together!

Love your writings here!

Thank you....
Reenie said…
As always.....I loved it! You have a knack of painting pictures with words. I will always think of you and your Momma when I see "a tomato sky" sunset.

Love you! Reenie xo
Miruh said…
Dear Linda,

This is a loving tribute to your mother. I feel her warrior spirit and her legacy she passed on to you in these beautiful snipets of her life.
The poem is one of my favorite.

May the love you feel be your comfort in these times!

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