What do you remember about your mother?
It had been quite some time since she passed, so at that moment, I wasn’t sure how to answer. Years later, I find that the memories of who she was, and what she did when we were children, are slowly fading away. I sit and sometimes wonder, what will I remember? What will be left of my mother?
I was just in middle school when she passed, so my younger siblings were too little to remember very much. The memories of who she was and the things she did are few and far between. I only have but a handful of photographs to remember her face by, but even then, her features seem frozen. I don’t really remember the touch of her skin, if she had a hearty laugh, or what was like to be in her arms.
I remember small, and strange moments in life. The oldest memory I have of her is when I was probably 4 or so. She was watching her favorite show and I was engrossed in my play stove. I had decided to make soup out of my water and Planter’s Cheese Crunchies, and feed it to my mom. She was so distracted by her show that she had no idea she had just accepted an orangey soup of soggy cheese crunchies. She spat it out and I giggled.
I recall her reading the Peter Cottontail books to me. She told me it was important to learn how to read and write early. She wanted me to be smart like my dad.
Her favorite store was 5-7-9, and I went with her a few times to go shopping as an older child. She adored shopping there, and I always asked her if we would go together when I grew up. I remember she had a white peplum outfit that was her favorite “party dress”.
She loved cooking, and our all-time favorite was her spam fried rice. It was also one of my dad’s favorites, and she continued to make it for him even after they were divorced. None of us have been able to recreate the same exact taste.
I remember the last day I had with her. We ended that day with heartfelt apologies and no regrets.
My last memory of her – is the sound of her voice on an old answering machine. She used to call us every night to say goodnight. Even if we didn’t answer, she would leave a message.
“Hi kids, it’s mom. I just wanted to tell you guys I love you and good night. I’ll see you this weekend.”
I kept playing that message after her passing over and over again, hoping that I would never forget the sound of her voice. I didn’t. Sadly, that small tape is long gone, but the sound of her voice and her heartfelt sentiment and honest love remains.
I remind myself of those calls. “She meant it. You wouldn’t do that everyday if you didn’t mean it. She loved you…she loved all of us. Sometimes, it’s hard to remember, but she did.”
So much time has gone by and now I am the same age as my mother when she passed. I can’t imagine what she would have felt, knowing that she wouldn’t see her children everyday. I don’t have any idea what it was like for her to struggle or see the confusion and sadness in her children’s faces after the divorce and the aftermath. I can’t imagine the pain she felt when we resented her for “leaving” us. We were young and naive of course, but I can’t imagine that doesn’t make it sting any less.
As we approach my first Mother’s Day, and what would have been her first as a Grandparent, I think about how she would have enjoyed my son. She would have agreed that he looked exactly like my dad and I. She would have shopped and bought him different outfits. She would have read the Peter Cottontail books to him.
This Sunday, I may be enjoying my day, but I will think of my mother the most.
photo from stocksnap.io, artist Bruno Nascimento