I thought of my mother today, her memory indelibly etched as it is into my heart and soul. I think of her every single day, but this time two sweet memories came to me.
The first came as I was cutting my toenails, as glamorous as that sounds. The last few years of her life I cut my mother’s toenails, a very intimate act. I had to be so careful not to cut her, as the Warfarin she was taking would make her bleed terribly. She would sit in her lift chair and talk to me as I sat on the floor at her feet and worked. Sometimes being silly, sometimes quietly thanking me for helping her, “Neese, you must really love me to do that. Thank you, Honey.” Sometimes we would laugh, and sometimes she would tell me stories of the ‘olden days’, just as I had begged her to do at bedtime when I was a young girl, hungry to hear about her life as a girl growing up during the Great Depression. I have her same goofy toes…it makes me smile to think of that.
The other memory came as I was washing my face. Mom was always self-conscious about something getting stuck in her deep wrinkles, and her vision wasn’t good enough to see for herself. She would ask me to check her face, and I would gently examine her, taking care of any issues, her beautiful blue eyes gazing intently at me. I can still feel the texture of her soft cheeks, this once great beauty- who at ninety-two was an even greater beauty with a spirit that never dimmed. She would mug for me with silly faces, making me laugh until tears came…but she would always end with, “I love you so much, Neese.” I never doubted that for one moment.
I miss her every day, my Heavy D; there are times when the ache is dull, and there are times when seeing or hearing something out of the blue will trigger a deep longing to be held in her arms and to hear her sweet voice telling me she loves me and that everything will be okay. That one person in the world who knew me better than anyone ever could, and loved me with fierce devotion all the same.
Some days though, these memories come and I feel her with me so strongly. I hear the echo of her voice encouraging me with words of love and strength. I can almost feel her comforting embrace, can smell a whiff of her hairspray in the air and almost hear her giggle.
When those times happen my heart contracts a bit and I smile in gratitude. I am her and she is me.
How grateful I am for the wellspring of memories from our fifty-three years together. Losing a parent leaves a hole that never quite heals, but then again, they never really leave us completely. They are there just beyond the veil, living on in us as precious remembrances.