I was using an app on my phone as a metronome in a lesson in my home studio yesterday when a message popped up from my cousin, telling me that our last living aunt, Aunt Lila, had passed away. She was the wife of Mom’s brother, Ernest; a strong woman with a wonderful laugh. My heart breaks for my cousin Gayle and her family in the loss of her mother; horribly difficult anytime, but maybe especially so so close to Mother’s Day.
Losing Aunt Lila, the last connection to that generation of my mother’s family, has brought many memories to the surface of a part of my family no longer here to remind us of our roots, the storytellers of who we are, that connection to the past that gives us a sense of belonging and meaning. Now it’s up to my cousins and I to pass on those important stories to our family’s next generations.
I miss my mom, Dorothy, the amazing ‘Heavy D’ and my first best friend, and will always miss her. There are many questions I still have for her, so many times I reach for the phone out of habit to share some good news with her- even today. To have another healing hug, to hear her laughter and her sweet voice saying, Hey Neese, love you, Honey. While the waves of grief are whispers most of the time after almost eight years, the heart-wrenching ache can pop up out of nowhere on special days, a flash of memory, or when I see someone with beautiful silver hair bent over a walker.
When I remember Mom’s passing, I feel gratitude for the gift of being at her bedside, telling her how loved she was, calling my sister Linda so that she could say her goodbyes. Every moment seemed surreal; painful beyond belief, but also an amazing gift to be with the woman who was with me at the beginning of my life at the end of her own.
Grief makes you focus on the end at first, the heart-ripped-out-of-your-chest pain that feels like it will never dull. In time, grief begins to ebb and your heart opens to memories of the entire time of life with your loved one- not only the sadness of the end. Then come the smiles…oh the smiles.
Happy Mother’s Day to all you mothers out there, whether your children are two-legged or four (or less or more!). Special love to the women who have been like mothers to me: Carol Talbot (our precious ‘Momma Carol’) and Louise Opperman, and to those who only now live in my heart, my dear aunts, Mom’s sisters Sara and Robbie, my wonderful mothers-in-laws, Virginia Schmidt and Georgene Gainey, and my best friend’s sweet Mom Cawein and Darla’s Momma Ruby. Thank you all, with all my heart for your love and lessons. What amazing women you were and are.