Archive | April 2012

View With a Grain of Sand

We call it a grain of sand,
but it calls itself neither grain nor sand.
It does just fine, without a name,
whether general, particular,
permanent, passing,
incorrect, or apt.

Our glance, our touch means nothing to it.
It doesn’t feel itself seen and touched.
And that it fell on the windowsill
is only our experience, not its.
For it, it is not different from falling on anything else
with no assurance that it has finished falling
or that it is falling still.

The window has a wonderful view of a lake,
but the view doesn’t view itself.
It exists in this world
colorless, shapeless,
soundless, odorless, and painless.

The lake’s floor exists floorlessly,
and its shore exists shorelessly.
The water feels itself neither wet nor dry
and its waves to themselves are neither singular nor plural.
They splash deaf to their own noise
on pebbles neither large nor small.

And all this beheath a sky by nature skyless
in which the sun sets without setting at all
and hides without hiding behind an unminding cloud.
The wind ruffles it, its only reason being
that it blows.

A second passes.
A second second.
A third.
But they’re three seconds only for us.

Time has passed like courier with urgent news.
But that’s just our simile.
The character is inverted, his hasts is make believe,
his news inhuman.

— Wislawa Szymborska

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Mother’s Day: My Mother, My Self, and My BFF

I’d like to share a blog post that I posted about Mother’s Day in 2010.

But before I do, I’d like to dedicate the blog post to my BFF.

Last Mother’s Day was the first without my mom. And I was absolutely dreading it. Having to hear about people taking their moms out to brunch or watching people buy Mother’s Day cards.

It was just heartbreaking.

Because the thing was, I loved, LOVED Mother’s Day. Looked forward to seeing my mom. Looked forward to the present I would give her. (She loved the Spa Ma Vermont Teddy Bear.) And mainly because I thought my mother was the best mom in the universe, I looked forward to celebrating the day of all things Mother.

And then she died.

I simply couldn’t bear Mother’s Day last year–to the point–that although I loved my Beloved’s mother, I couldn’t bring myself to even spend the day with them.

I decided to boycott the day altogether.But what to do? I knew I would be at a loose end.

I called Bu.

Together we hatched a plan. Although we lived in different states with different timezones,we both decided to go see a movie “together.” We planned a time that worked for both of us–with the promise that we would discuss the movie on the way home.

What turned out to be a potentially awful day turned out to be pretty nice.

So to my BFF: Happy Early Mother’s Day. Thank you for being my BFF, sister, advice-giver, M.O.M., snuggie-maker, French-hair braider, recipe-giver, knitting instructor, for knowing the importance of Pinterest, and for wondering how on earth Jessica Simpson could still be pregnant.

__________________________________________________________________

As I look towards getting older, there are many things I look forward to: a. getting to speak my mind fully and unselfconsciously to complete strangers without fear of repercussion (I am actively working on this), b. getting better looking by means fair or foul (i.e., Botox if need be), c. mandatory spa treatments to support letter b, and d. turning into my mother.

Because, you see, my mother–quite simply–rocks.

Now, I know other people say this of their mothers–and espouse their greatness–but in my mother’s case, it is simply true.

Kinda like gravity.

The best part of being my mother’s daughter is being her daughter as an adult. (Not that I still don’t get maternal advice: don’t talk to strangers, watch your purse, watch out for deer on the road–and after getting my wallet stolen, she’s not taking any chances!). We have so much fun together–we laugh, we talk. We also have our secret mom/daughter language (sorry–no can tell).

Although we live close, our respective work schedules make it difficult to see each other often or regularly, we have what I like to refer to as the Weekly Phone Call, which may transpire something like this:

ME: (after shutting office door and using office phone, which offers better quality than my crappy phone) Hi, it’s ME!

MOM: Hi ME! How is work?

ME: Fine.

MOM: How is Man?

ME: Fine.

MOM: How is LT? (Teddy for those of you not In the Know.)

ME: Fine. He’s still old.

(abrupt change in conversation)

ME: I HAVE GOSSIP!!

MOM: What? What is it?

ME: (spilling forth gossip of the week)

MOM: That’s good gossip.

ME: I know! (Because I’m nothing if not modest.) Do you have gossip?

MOM: Some. I was having issues with my wireless network. I called Tech Support, and they LOVED my network name!

ME: Oh yeah–what is it?

MOM: NO POACHING

Now, seriously, how can you not love a mom like that? She’s tech-savvy and protects her bandwidth.

The best part about my mom is not about the big memories we’ve made together–but the small ones–and even some of those in difficult times.

Valentine’s Day

As lame as it sounds, Valentine’s Day is pretty important to girls–even though we can probably all agree that it’s a commercialized holiday funded by Hallmark. And yet, when that day rolls around, we want some acknowledgment that someone out there loves us–albeit in the form of a Hallmark Greeting Card.

I am lucky. Having suffered several crappy VD memories over the years–namely, buying my own flowers at the grocery store–after bashing my head in on a lamp and requiring 28 stitches and some guy heckling me in the parking lot–I am happily ensconced with Man (who makes everyday special), and always lights up my day with flowers and chocolates on Valentine’s Day.

Before Man, however, and even before my dad (who sent me my first flowers at age 14), there was my mom.

It was fourth grade (back in the day when you had to send valentines to every kid in the class–whether you liked them or not). I had walked in from school and up in the living room–sitting on the Queen Ann Table (from which I write this blog)–sat my Valentine’s gift from my mom; a white teddy bear holding a heart that said ‘Somebody Loves You,” a box of chocolates, candy hearts, and a card.

I could not believe that all that was for me. It was the best feeling ever.

Plantation Project

I remember being so worried about this project for my fifth-grade history project–but no worries: Mom to the rescue. Mine was one of the best in class, and we had such fun working on it together.

A Night at The Worthington

Mom and I spent a night at The Worthington in downtown Fort Worth–being ladies on the town. 🙂 We sat in the piano lounge in our dress-up clothes. I was 16 and felt so elegant.

Ice Cream Sundaes on the Couch

After my parents separated, my mom and I spent an afternoon on the couch watching movies and eating ice cream. She brought me an outfit from The Limited, which I had (at least the leggings) until 2001.

Where Everybody Knows Your Name: Boston

In spite of all the sadness that had befallen us, Mom always wanted to make sure we made memories. We used her flight benefits to fly to Boston for the day. We went to Filene’s Basement.

Freshman Year of College

After the passing of my grandmother after I transferred back to UNT–in spite of the grief she felt about my grandmother–my mom was there. I remember how out-of-the-blue she showed up at my dorm room with a new outfit because she thought it might cheer me up.

Cruising

Mom always wanted us to having something to look forward to–so she planned a cruise for us upon my exit from grad school. We planned for months–fretting over wardrobes and pondering menus. 🙂

Brain Surgery

The worst thing about brain surgery is death. And having to shave your head. And that there aren’t mandatory pedicures. The best thing about brain surgery is having your mother with you. And not just the hospital stay–but after. It never occurred to my mother that she wouldn’t stay with me–even at the expense of other things going on. She was there–making smoothies, meals that I could eat, finding a pillow that I could sleep on, helping me bathe. But we talked–about life, about movies…sometimes we didn’t talk at all. We just sat.

The best thing you can have your mother say at 30, “You’re a lot easier to feed now than as a baby.” 🙂

Relocation

Moving to the midwest wasn’t an easy decision–I was ready for a change and wanted to be where my mom was. After living in Chicago, I got my job in Minnesota.

And I emailed my mom with the words, “Hello Neighbor!” She cried. I did, too. And then I moved, and we ate Potbelly and clipped coupons. And Facebooked. And watched our shows. No Lifetime movie was ever too awful.

Lessons Learned From My Mom:

1. Put the turkey in early on a low setting.
2. If the recipe calls for butter, use it.
3. Watch for deer.
4. Don’t pet the deer.
5. Watch for you purse when you travel because if you lose your license, you’re not coming home.
6. Wear sunscreen.
7. Use fabric softener as cream rinse.
8. Wed. is double-coupon day at Rainbow.
9. Heat up a cup of white vinegar in the microwave to help clean the insides.
10. I Love Lucy/ Golden Girls fixes all troubles.

To my mom: I love you!!

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And to my BFF: love you, too.

A state of my heart – from a different view

My mother and father were married for 38 years. So when she passed, I did not have to assume the duties of estate executor. I did not have to review her will or submit for death certificates. My father did all of that. In some ways this was a great relief though I tried to help with as many things as I could. My hope was to ease my father’s pain in any way that I could. I asked for a few of mom’s things, grasping at anything that would keep her more alive to me. I wanted the jewelry she wore as it was the last thing to touch her. I took some of her clothes because they touched her skin; I took some of her shoes even though we don’t wear the same shoe size, but because they were hers. When I got home I placed the clothes in a box to “save” her smell.

My mother always taught us that home isn’t a house, it’s the family within it and the memories you make. She was an avid collector of a variety of things to include pill boxes, silver, figurines, and crystal. She was a hoarder of photographs, ordering many, but never sending them out to family and rarely displaying them. Until my brother scanned every.single.childhood.photograph. I only had one or two photographs of me or my family as a child. I remember countless times polishing and cleaning mom’s silver – even doing this mere hours after she passed. I recall searching for pill boxes that symbolized or meant something to her – a duckie pill box, a wedding cake pill box, a margarita pill box (that broke as she opened it or as I packed it – but I gave it to her anyway). She was afraid to move her beloved figurines for fear of breaking them. Once I broke a Christmas ornament and you might have thought I had killed a puppy her reaction was so great. She only brought out the “good china” and “good crystal” for special occasions so many of my memories of holidays have these “rare” items in them.

She had exquisite taste. She dressed impeccably and was the epitome of class. A year or so before she passed, we went through her closet to purge the clothing she could not wear anymore. Up until that point I had not realized what a clothing snob she was. Her closet was filled with designer shoes, clothes and bags. She had a story for almost every purchase and seeing the old relics reminded me of watching her dress for parties as a child. That was a particularly fun day for me and mom. I itemized, listed and bagged each item of clothing – which then sat in her foyer for I do not know how long. Mom was a firm believer that “possession is 9/10ths of the law.”

I was the beneficiary of many wonderful items of my mothers. As the only daughter I expected (and felt entitled) to these items. They were my mothers. And, frankly, if I had found an old tissue I may have kept that too. See, once someone is gone, there are no more memories with them to be made. There are no more hugs to be had or kisses exchanged. No more words. No more moments. And when you open that box of items that you delicately stored and “hoarded” as your own, you might be surprised when the smell is gone, just like mom.

After mom was gone I had assumed that going through mom’s things would be left to me. I envisioned delicately going through her things, folding them and packing them up. In my vision, I could see her smiling at me, just like she had when we went through her closet. I imagined gliding through the house and being given her things for my own house… items from her collection. The reality of this was quite different.

From my experiences I have learned:

1. Talk to your family.
2. Be your own advocate: If you want something make it known. Write it down. Voice your wants. And don’t stop yelling until you get them.
3. What might be endearing and precious to you, may seem indiginifant to someone else. Let them know why it is special to you.
4. If you suspect something amiss, it probably is.
5. Follow your gut.
6. People’s timelines for grief are varied and different. Don’t be surprised if you are still mourning three, four, five years later; and don’t be surprised if someone else is not.
7. Don’t wait to take care of things until the right moment (ie. Packing up mom’s things). That moment will never come. The pain will never lessen. The moment IS the moment.
8. Realize that if things you desperately and soulfully want aren’t received that no one can take your memories.