Monday, May 13, 2013

Motherhood and Dreams

I bought geraniums.

Mostly because I know you loved them.

This week, too,  I poured pine sol in the toilet just so the house would smell clean, like you used to do.

Dad and I took the little stone bird bath to the cemetery. I've never seen a single bird in it, but they dance around like its an altar.

Now hours of flu have ransacked my body and taken its toll. My feet shuffle around the kitchen, my stomach, it still hurts, and my heart too. How do you celebrate Mother's Day, when your mom is gone and all you want is to hear her voice?

Yes, with my achy joints and hurting heart, well I make chicken soup with homemade noodles. Not because I'm hungry, but because I wanted something that reminds me of you. I know that if I could call and tell you I'm not feeling well, you would bring me soup or at least 7-Up with orange juice. And you would hug me even though there is risk of my germs rubbing off on you.

That's what kind of mom you were.

I lean hard into the dough and feel the soft texture pressed down under the weight of my hands. Yes. I could see you there working in the kitchen. I could feel the softness of your cheeks as I brush a kiss across them. As I'm doing my own dishes I could almost hear the clamor of you, washing pans while I dried. Oh a thousand times we stood at the sink. You washing and me drying. In that full and crazy house, those were some of our most intimate one-on-one times.

In my mind, is beautiful you, rocking in your favorite chair and stitching purple embroidery floss into delicate flowers or with your glasses resting on the end of your nose doing your crossword puzzle. You the wordsmith. I can see your smooth, white skin with a speckling of age spots. Your busy hands are strong and your fingers straight, with just a hint of arthritis on the tip of your right index finger and all your neatly clipped fingernails. 

Some days, still,  I pick up the phone to call you, thinking you are sitting there waiting and rocking. Perhaps to ask for that one recipe again or so you can tell me how to spell a word. Yes, I know I can Google it, but it was our thing.

This last few weeks I have wanted to share the wonder of how your youngest granddaughter is twenty-one already and how your great-grandbaby Max, who you didn't get to meet, he smiles like his sweet mommy and that still, no one in the family can make coleslaw like you.

Frames of my life flash through my head. I can see you every Saturday night, setting pin curls in my hair for church on Sunday, you hiding Christmas gifts in the exact same place, and how you called me "Ron" or "Ronnie" and told me that I was the beautiful little blue eyed, blond headed girl my dad always wanted.

I think of how, when you were nervous you talked fast and said silly things. How you told certain stories over and over again, because they were important to you. How you always thought your sisters were all the cutest and smartest and how you loved all six of them. Even the crazy ones.

When I was going through your cookbooks and recipe boxes trying to sniff a glimpse of your heart, I found that  you must have loved, loved lemon and pineapple. And now I've been craving something lemony too these days. 

Thousands and thousands of meals you cooked standing in that one place, bent over the gas stove that faces north, with a view out the double wide picture window, looking out over the front pasture. You frying bacon, hash-browns and eggs most every morning.

On one day while you cooked,  I sat and asked you what your little girl dreams were. And you stared out the window like peering down a long lost tunnel and while you stirred the food you said, "...I always thought I'd be a legal secretary." "...or maybe..... a writer." "And when you kids were grown I thought I'd go back to school, but..."

Your voice trailed off, but I knew. 

Because you raised the four of us and then were handed two more that needed your strong arms to hold them, someone who would be there to make thousands of meals more. Girls who needed one willing woman to tuck them into bed at night and to be there again in the morning when they woke up. 

They needed you so they could grow up and live out their dreams. We all needed you to set aside your dreams for the greater dreams.

When I was in eighth grade you suggested I write a paper for a contest. I yawned and you prodded. How gently you encouraged me to gather facts, string words into sentences, and rewrite it until it took form. You were my spell check. No one was more surprised than me that I won second place in that contest. (Ok. Maybe my teacher too, was surprised?) 

And later. When you were gone, I found pictures of you sitting in high school classes behind typewriters, in writing clubs and on newspaper staff.

Before marriage, children and life getting messy.... you were a writer.


Before you were a mom you had dreams. They were overrun by dreamless, sleepless nights. 

By setting aside the very essence of your one beautiful soul, you shaped our souls. 

In a million little ways we broke your heart and in ten million ways you loved us anyway.

To truly love, is to suffer. And who suffers more than a mother like you, who buries two sons, in the place meant for your own resting place?  There is no getting over that kind of tragedy.

Your dreams were beaten down and all-but-forgotten by years of being  - - a mom.

Yet, through all the pain, life still sprang forth from your labor, mom.

You really were a bit like an altar in the family. The solid center stone in a home. The glue that keeps things stuck together. And if funeral attendance can be an indicator, many were your spiritual children too.

Constant in commitment, extravagant in selfless love, tireless in truth and through all the trials. 

Yes, you and your beautiful strong heart. It wasn't until it quit beating that I could fully realize that you spent your life dreams on others and left for me and the generations to come, a legacy of your dreams. 

Was there anyone who really knew, the you, that lay dormant deep within your soul?  Did anyone really know your most intimate, heartbeats?

There is only One.

The Dream Giver Himself. Only God knew. And only He could take the dreams, that you willingly laid aside and hand them off, so that other dreams could come true.

How do you celebrate Mother's Day when your mother is gone?

You press in, to love those in your life, with  the mess and beauty of it all.    

You keep dreaming and walking in your little girl dreams.

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Sharing today my favorite non-profit group is The A21 Campaign with Christine Caine who is fearlessly leading the fight on humane trafficking.

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Linking up with the sweet, beautiful Holley Gerth today. 

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Counting 1000 Gifts

#902  Max's smile when he sees his mommy
#903  Fresh mowed grass, the first cut of the year
#904  Random pansy that is growing out of the edge of concrete
#905  Our Pastor John Stone. Amazing man. Yes.
#906  Fresh clean sheets. On Monday. #justlikemom
#907  Husband home tonight.

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Photo Credit 1     Photo Credit 2

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