Our mother, Betty, finished her walk through the valley of the shadow of death on the morning of December 11 2018, and entered the Paradise of God immediately thereafter. She missed her 96th birthday by two days. And then her 96th Christmas; and New Year’s Celebration; and on it goes, the end of an era.
Every special occasion and holiday is now “a first” for all of us kids, and Memorial Day is now one such occasion. In times past we’d usually have a barbeque, often in mom’s back yard sitting on the patio where Kays family tradition evolved over the decades. The chatter in the shade of the patio was usually politics, family, and work, with a heavy dose of sports news, trivia and prediction. As the years rolled by it was not uncommon to haze newcomers and short-timers who were initiated into the family, or who passed through as part of their own life’s journey.
But, now, every holiday and special occasion is different. Mom is no longer the “go-to guy” (in a manner of speaking) and the house a 1212 Macy is no longer our home. We’re scattered all across the country living different lives in different places. So, I’m thinking that each of us kids has their own thoughts about family on days like this. And, every first birthday after mom’s death will mark an unusual first for each of us. She always sent a card and typically made a phone call to each of her children on the day that marked that child’s birth.
Except for her last year. Mom wasn’t really tracking time well. Months on end spent in a elder care facility will do that to you. Yesterday is today is tomorrow, and last month might as well have been last year. So, there were no calls or cards in 2018. And they were missed. I remember that mom’s call to me often would include a serenade of “Happy Birthday” replete with the chorus-ending “And many more . . . ” So, good memories. And that will have to do from now on.
I know from your Facebook posts and Tweets that some of you walked through that valley with a parent, spouse, or loved on in the past year or so. You know exactly what I’m talking about. Like me, you may have picked-up the grilling goods at Albertson’s or T-Joe’s earlier today, and you’ve got the ‘que fired-up right now. In a little while you’ll be chowin’ down and maybe enjoying a cold one with the people you love. Only, the party got smaller by one or two this year. So, there’s no avoiding how that feels today—odd; weird; sad; glad; surreal—and how it will feel on your next birthday or anniversary.
This one thing I know, though. My mother, Betty, is with us today and every other holiday—because we won’t let her not be with us. We won’t hear her voice, see her face, or turn down “seconds” for the third time in the last 40 minutes. But, she’s here because we’re bringing her here on our words in the family folklore that now includes her (just as in times past she spun the tales that included those distant faces long passed).
So, it’s a good day, even though we’re a bit shorthanded today. For the first time. Still, we say, “Thanks for the Memories”. It was a heckuva ride, Mom.