She’s been gone for 14 years and yet the week ahead still marks a time of sadness. Perhaps it always will.
Watching an elderly woman, wrapped up in a coat two times too big with a mismatched scarf tied under her chin, walking slowly across the intersection, reminded me of mom and everything I miss about her.
Over a period of three days, during a cold and snowy February, we celebrated mom’s birthday and then her death. It was bittersweet as she was ready to leave us, to end her struggle to breathe, as lung cancer had quickly consumed her.
Anytime I hear of someone losing their battle with cancer, I think of her and hospice, hospital beds, oxygen tanks and morphine. It wasn’t an easy time, but I’m so very grateful I could be the one to take care of her, in the comfort of her own home, during those last months of her life.
Whenever I look at the lists plastered all over my desk and computer, I think of her and the times I’d make fun of her to-do lists. She even kept a running list of things she wanted to talk to me about when I’d stop by. She would have loved having the luxury of communicating with me from the comfort of her couch with a cell phone. She would have been the queen of texting.
Since I have finally inherited her love for cooking, I find myself looking through her recipe books. I remember thinking how goofy it was she’d write on the pages of each recipe she tried, whether it was good or bad, needed more salt or less water. But now, as I read her notes, and try the recipe myself, I say a silent thank you for her opinions I can still enjoy.
When I’m at the day’s end and my feet are tired, I think of her and those comfortable, yet unfashionable SAS shoes she always wore and swore by. As much as I made fun of her obsession with the color purple, I now find myself buying clothes with the same vibrancy she enjoyed.
She was the master of buying decorations after the holidays at half price. I am still enjoying the fruits of her labor with tubs full of her discounted finds. I also still enjoy the many seasonal vests she made for me and my sister. I used to think it was corny to wear them and now consider it a privilege.
The flannel pajamas she’d wear in the winter, the slippers which were never far away are all too familiar now as I have my own. I remember vowing I’d never wear “old people” stuff. I realize now it’s not about being old, it’s the desire to be comfortable, which overrides fashion.
The things I say and the things I do remind me of her.
It’s just a fact, you become your parents. I used to resist it, now I embrace it.
Happy birthday mom. I wish I would have told you how great you looked in your purple polyester pants and SAS shoes.
Sandy Turner is a GateHouse Media columnist.