Thursday, January 18, 2007

i see her in my hands...

but I lose her in my green eyes. My family says I act like her rather than look like her.

Today she would be 59 and I wonder what her online identity would have been? What cellular service she would have chosen; what tv programs she would watch.

She never used a microwave or even a VCR. Her car ran without GPS and seatbelts.

She posted on her "blog" daily: what we ate, what we said, what we felt. Why the pancakes burnt and how the syrup spilt. Ten years of my childhood laid out for my memory in a daily record book after Noxema cleansed her face at night and Oil of Olay replinished the shine. She lotioned her hands and watched Johnny Carson and waited for my father's 4:00 p.m. shift to end. When she finished writing, she'd pick up a crossword, much like my sister does today at the beach, in the bedroom, at the airport.

She never had time to mess me up. Only a decade to nurture. Only a decade to laugh. Only a decade to wipe away tears and apply a kiss and a band aid when a rock stuck in my roller skates on the rough edge of the concrete and stung my shins and blistered my palms when I fell hard.

I don't cringe when someone says, "You act just like your mother." I don't need counseling because she made me feel inadequate. I don't need therapy because she lowered my self-esteem through my teenage years. I don't need a psychologist to tell me it's not my fault and that I am the way I am because of my condescending mother with disapproving looks when I left home in a too short skirt in my boyfriend's convertible.

It's been 24 years and I do miss her. I wish for what I didn't have with her and what my friends don't have with their mothers, because of course, if she were alive today, we'd have the perfect mother/daughter relationship. We'd share stories about our day and then meet for coffee to talk some more, although I never saw her drink a cup in her life. We'd eat lunch at teahouses and swap our most recent essays. She'd complain about dad and I'd laugh and say, "Mom this is too much information!" She'd tell me secrets about life and secrets about love. She'd listen intently, and quietly, to my complaints that the weight of the world seems to be on my shoulders, and she'd know that I really wasn't complaining, but venting in the moment. And she would agree with me, but artfully slip in a word or two of advice . . . and then . . . transcending . . . we would find cotton candy, buy the pink one, and rest on a park bench eating until our fingers were sticky and our tongues were liquid sugar. We would shop for baby dolls and Barbies and stop by the supermarket to buy the necessary ingredients for homemade sugar cookies shaped like stars and Santas. And then we would go for ice cream, and outside the Tastee Freeze we would look up to remind ourselves and whisper outloud: "Star light, star bright, first star I see tonight. Wish I may, wish I might, have this wish I wish tonight?"


Janet said...

Lately I flinch every time I read something you say about your mother. Everytime I read that you're now as old as she was when she died or the fact that you had her for a decade, it catches me off guard. Perhaps it's because I remember her...vaguely, but I do. I can't believe we hadn't even broached 10 at that time! Wow.
So interesting to think that times have changed so much since then and so strange to wonder how she would have dealt with the technology of the day.

It's amazing how we can imagine someone and something so beautiful when we don't have them around and not appreciate them nearly enough when they are.

Eddie Goins said...

Your mother was a wonderful person. Every time we visited you guys at church in Gainesville (we used to camp a lot at Theodosia in the summertime and when deer hunting in the fall north of town off Hwy. 181) she would ALWAYS invite us to your house for lunch. We never went because we were too busy getting back to the "fun" things of the weekend. I really regret now that we didn't come eat and visit with her. As we get older we learn what the most important things in life really are, although a little too late. I'm so glad we can look forward to a reunion with her, and many other loved ones, someday.

Casey said...

Thank you for the comments. As I'm getting older, it's so interesting to me to see memories others have of my mother. And Janet, the funny thing is, again as I get older, I don't look at it like I only had ten years with her...I see it more as if she only had 10 years with me. That sounds conceited and I certainly do not mean it that way, but life and living--and the understanding of it--is far more important to an adult than a child. (Which Eddie points out that in his post.) Can you imagine a young mother knowing she will die, and making the most of her life with her children and family. For some reason I get more upset that she had to deal with those types of feelings rather than "I lost my mom when I was 10."

Eddie, I remember those days when you guys would visit...and I specifically remember going to Pontiac and Theodosia sometimes to cook hot dogs on your fire...and it was always exciting to know our cousins from far away (yeah, I now know it wasn't that far away)would be coming to church with us. Thank you for your memories of that.

Tonya said...

I remember your mom in the kitchen cooking us omelets or driving us to the lake while we sat in the back of the station wagon singing. I remember the smell of your attic and the comfort of knowing she was just down the stairs if we needed her. I remember not being able to visit her in the hospital and being very sad about it. I remember seeing the cross above St. Johns and knowing she would soon be leaving us. I remember sitting in the swing at Grandma & Grandpa's talking about her after she had passed. I remember her smile and her gentleness and her love.

Thinking of her and you girls makes me think of my mom and how precious my time is with her and how blessed I am to have her around.

Anonymous said...

Thank you. Mother's Day is a tough day for me. You captured the complexity of what some of us feel on this day.