Saturday, May 28, 2011

Remembering


My Mama would have celebrated her 94th birthday today. She didn't live past the age of 65 and I still miss her presence.

She was a city girl who moved to the country to teach in a rural high school. She was a small woman, not more than 5' 3" in heels and she loved stylish clothes. She wore her beautiful cornsilk hair in a roll around her head. She was every inch a lady though I became aware as I grew up that she hid a sharp wit and a clever tongue behind that facade. She could quell an unruly 8th grade boy with a look, a practice she brought to bear in motherhood as well. We children didn't get away with much.

Though she grew up on the outskirts of a thriving city with all the amenities a city has to offer, when she married my father and moved to a rural area an hour and a half away she learned in a hurry how to grow food for her growing family, cook the game my father loved to hunt, and keep an old house in good shape. I played dress-up in her beautiful, seldom-worn dresses and skirts while she turned to slacks and housedresses. Living on a chicken farm where she raised a large vegetable garden, chopped wood for the fire, tended flower beds and chased spiders with dust cloth and broom was dirty work.

It was her cheerfulness that I remember most, and her steadfastness. Gracious is a word I have always associated with Mama. She  could be counted on to look for and find the best in everyone, to weasel the silver lining out of the darkest cloud, to embrace trouble head on and find a peaceful solution, to look at all of life with an attitude of awe and appreciation.

It helps to think of her now, to imagine what she would say in the face of the sudden deaths of two great friends in the space of three weeks. I can hear her soft steady voice in my head telling me to look for ways to comfort those friends left behind, and to find ways to let myself grieve. I take long walks, write poetry, find green places to sit while I weep with abandon. Healing will come, she whispers to me, only after you walk willingly through the shadows.



16 comments:

Judith said...

What a beautiful tribute. Made me cry.
How blessed you were to grow up with this maternal presence.
It explains a lot about you, too, and your cornsilk hair.

Barbara Shallue said...

So beautiful. It comforts me to realize I'll still hear my mother's voice helping me through the tough times in my life when I can no longer just pick up the phone and call her. Thank you.

steven said...

the photograph and your words of her life and living - gentle, so gentle. no wonder you are who you are. steven

Brian Miller said...

smiles. this is a lovely tribute to her and some fond memories...

Star said...

A lovely photo and beautiful words Pauline. My ex mother in law died last Sunday. She would have been 98 on 26th May. It's a shame your mum died so young.
She looks Norwegian.

Pauline said...

Judith - she was a lovely woman and I was not a lovely child. We certainly had our moments...

Barbara - she talks to me a lot, sometimes telling me things I'd rather not hear but now I must listen more closely

Steven - I try harder now to be like her. When I was young I was independent to a fault...

Brian - finally I can smile when I think of her. I'm still weeping over the loss of my friends...

Thank you Star - I'm sorry for your own loss. Each death diminishes us and yet our memories renew us

Molly said...

Beautifully expressed thoughts on a beautiful lady. Sorry you have so much sadness to deal with right now; glad you have her whispering to you on how to cope. She sounds very wise, and very kind.

Out on the prairie said...

Very nicely written. I still have dreams of being with my parents in different situations and wake really refreshed.We see a part o0f them in everything we do. I see and hear my dad a lot when I speak or laugh.My mother comes along when I am nice to others and listen well.

Reya Mellicker said...

This is so beautiful. What a woman! Thank you for the word and visual portraits. What is remembered, lives.

Kerry said...

Your mother was a woman that anyone would want to know. I love her hair!

Ironically I am at the moment on a trip back to the midwest to visit my own mother, just turned 90. This is not an easy trip, and when I think of her I do prefer to remember her at age 65, when she was in full control of her wit and beauty.

Marion said...

Pauline, this was a lovely tribute to a beautiful woman, wife and mother. I love the image of this wonderful woman chasing spiders and finding dust-balls, after beginning her life so stylishly. Such courage!

Both my mother and my daughter visit often and because of that, I know if I am troubled, I only have to wait until I feel their warm energy surrounding me to feel safe and understood. I imagine it is very like that for you with your mother.

Take care, sweetie, life is difficult for you right now."Healing will come, she whispers to me, only after you walk willingly through the shadows." How right she is!!! xo

Barbara said...

Your mother sounds like a very strong but compassionate individual. I love the way she adapted to life on a farm after growing up in the city. I'm sure she would be proud of you if she were still alive.

Pauline said...

Molly - her voice is always with me :)

OOTP - it's neat the way you keep your parents' memories active

Reya - yes, my Mama was a wonderful person

Kerry - how lucky you are to still have her

Thanks, Marion - good memories are good to have

Barbara - she was a well-rounded and balanced woman, and a loving one

Hilary said...

This is a beautiful tribute to your mother, Pauline. And lovely that you have these comforting messages from her. I'm sorry for your recent losses.

deb colarossi said...

oh, Pauline.
I don't know what to say...

I have been away, and didn't know. So sorry.

Pauline said...

Thanks Deb- you don't need words. Just commenting with sincerity is enough. Time will ease the hurt as it always does.