I’m thinking of my mom today. It’s hard to believe she’s been gone nine years this month. Somehow, it seems like she is both still with me–only a phone call away–and also that she’s been gone for a lifetime. Both statements are true. It has been a lifetime ago. I’m not the same person that I was in 2008. So much has changed since then. I was 39 when she died. I hadn’t yet reached my 40s–the decade that changed me completely. Everything I thought to be safe and true proved to be not quite so. Every facet of my identity transformed into something hardly recognizable, until I recognized that something as the authentic me.
And so, it seems a lifetime ago.
And yet, there are still days when I think of something funny to share with her or need to know exactly what she did to make fried squash turn out crispy or pinto beans turn out thick, yet soupy. I pick up my phone and dial 304-,—–then remember she’s not there. But, I remind myself that she is here, kinda*, as long as I can remember some things about her: how she loved Willie Nelson, long naps, grandchildren, Democrats, country music, ironing, hot donuts, and daisies.
(Yes, that kinda* is a bit of magical thinking.)
I know I’m not alone. We who have lost our mothers all know this feeling of occasionally being lost in time, as well.
I planted daisies in my garden. Every June they spring into bloom.
‘DAISIES’ by Mary Oliver
“It is possible, I suppose that sometime
we will learn everything
there is to learn: what the world is, for example,
and what it means. I think this as I am crossing
from one field to another, in summer, and the
mockingbird is mocking me, as one who either
knows enough already or knows enough to be
perfectly content not knowing. Song being born
of quest he knows this: he must turn silent
were he suddenly assaulted with answers. Instead
oh hear his wild, caustic, tender warbling ceaselessly
unanswered. At my feet the white-petalled daisies display
the small suns of their center piece, their — if you don’t
mind my saying so — their hearts. Of course
I could be wrong, perhaps their hearts are pale and
narrow and hidden in the roots. What do I know?
But this: it is heaven itself to take what is given,
to see what is plain; what the sun lights up willingly;
for example — I think this
as I reach down, not to pick but merely to touch —
the suitability of the field for the daisies, and the
daisies for the field.”
― Mary Oliver, Why I Wake Early
Photos of a few daisies in my garden and nearby woods. And Mom. And Willie Nelson.
Mom (1940-2008) and Willie Nelson