Yesterday was my Mother’s birthday, though she didn’t know it and I think maybe I was the only one who remembered and thought about it all day long.
We used the day to move her to the last bed she will likely ever sleep in. I say we, though, in truth, I had very little to do with it. The nurses speak to her as if she were a child. I liken it to the way I reassure my cat, Buddy, when we visit the dreaded vet. I keep repeating it’s okay, which makes him behave. Though he doesn’t believe it, and neither does she.
And, so… while this is for the best, it leaves daughters, like me, feeling helpless and hopeless, realizing far too late that I should have talked to her, when I could, about the little things.
Like her recipe for chokecherry jam.
My Mother created the ‘girl getaway,’ long before that was fashionable. She’d pack me in the car and drive north to her sister, Ollie’s farm. Windows down, hair blowing in the breeze, Mom would talk loudly over the noise, reminiscing about that farm, where she grew up. About her horse, Old Slim Jim, who was neither old, nor slim – or, for that matter, a boy. He served as reliable transportation when she was too young to drive.
Once at the farm, we’d head straight to the fields and spend the day picking chokecherries. Mom had more sisters than you could ever imagine and 5 or 6 of them would show up for this summer ritual.
We’d pick buckets and buckets of sour, little berries. Have a picnic in the shade where I got to eavesdrop on their chatter… about life and love, husbands and homes.
Back at our house, we’d turn those tart berries into small jars of sweet jam. Some entered in the state fair competition. Most given away to familiar faces who dropped by to say hello.
One by one, her sisters are dying, now. And, so is she. And, those days won’t ever come again. Because Mothers in my generation rarely get the opportunity to expose their little girls to such things.
She could have grown chokecherries on her own land and made this easy. She could have left me behind at the sitter. But, this wasn’t about the berries, or the jam. I think maybe it was those days that molded me into a kind and quiet person. One who appreciates simple things. And, the camaraderie of women, and men, for the rich experiences they both have to offer.
Say a prayer for my Mother, today. Perhaps, in her fitful dreams, she will hear it.