Tuesday, May 1, 2012

What I Think About: Counting My Memories, Er Blessings

My sister sent me a text last night saying something to the effect of, "I'm already dreading tomorrow."

Tomorrow?  Why tomorrow?  Of course I knew.  Of course it had been nagging at me and I responded to the pain the way I generally do--by ignoring it until it couldn't be ignored.

May 2.  Mom's 61st birthday.  It's here.

I got angry.  Always, I get angry.  Mad she turned 60 and died.  Mad 60 was a waste.  Mad I won't see her blow out those 61 candles.  Mad I don't freaking have a mom.  Mad! But if counseling has taught me anything, then it has taught me anger is a surface feeling--a feeling that keeps us from feeling other feelings.

I stood in the shower long and hot and pondered what do I really feel?  Under the hurt and anger--what do I feel?  I feel ashamed for wasting time with her--for not saying "I love you" enough.  I feel disappointed my children will never know her how I knew her.  I feel scared I'll die of the same disease.  I feel a profound sense of orphaness.

These last few months I just haven't been the same.  I've been bogged down in the bad.  Letting her death and my dad's cancer, and the every day grind eat away at my joy and hope.  I see other daughters complaining about their mothers and I want to grab their shoulders and scream at them to just shut up and love their moms because one day--despite the over-sharing of advice and the giving grandkids too much candy and toys, and the petty fights over whose house they'll go to for Christmas--their moms will be gone and they will wish deep in their soul for just one more moment.

Now I'm not going to go all motivational speaker on you.  I'm not going to tell you to live in the moment and seize the day and make it all count.  I'm not.  And if I did, you wouldn't listen anyway because life--poopy diapers, whopping piles of laundry, runny noses, and chores--gets in the way of enjoying life.

But what I am going to do--for my sake and not yours--is to remember on these bad days what made the good days so damn good.  I read 1000 Gifts by Ann Voskamp (and if you haven't then I really think you should) and she talks about how all Biblical miracles were preceded by thanks, by gratitude, by the naming of blessing.  So today, I'm not going to wish I had seized the day.  I'm not going to wallow in "what I could have done" or "should have done."  I'm going to get out of my pity-party by naming 61 memories of my mom.  Memories are, perhaps, the sweetest blessings.

In no particular order:

  1. One time at the grocery store I snuck an economy sized jar of grape jelly into the grocery cart.  When we got home, my mom told me that jelly was all I would eat on sandwiches until it was gone.  To this day, I hate grape jelly.
  2. My mom called me one time on December 23 to tell me about this sweater Matt just had to have. The store was sold out so she, over the dissent of the store clerks, stripped the mannequin of the display sweater and demanded it be sold to her.  I don't even know if Matt still has that sweater.
  3. My mom and I painted ironing-board sized Santas together.  
  4. My mom called my cat Nanners.
  5. She loved Cherry Garcia ice cream (I think I'll have some today--in celebration of her).
  6. She owned a Subway and would make Cheez-Wiz sandwiches.
  7. She never did learn the lyrics to The Grundy County Auction (hey pretty lady won't you give me a sign I do anything to make you mine) despite attempts to teach her.
  8. When I was a kid, she'd give me 50 cents to go to 7-11 to get a slurpee.
  9. My mom took me to get my black lab, Cubby.
  10. Once my mom took me swimming at the YMCA.  All of a sudden she pulled me out of the water and we sped home.  I was mad we had to leave. Turns out, there was a tornado spotted about 3 blocks away.
  11. She had expensive taste in jewelry. I'm certain this is genetic.
  12. She spent her summers on a farm in Trehern, Manitoba.
  13. She became a U.S. citizen on August 22, 2010.  She moved to the states in 1969.
  14. My mom taught me about percentages by taking me shopping and out to eat.  To this day, no one can figure out a tip faster than I can.
  15. She made the best corn bread.
  16. She loved pigs.
  17. My mom named me after her best friend, Heather Joy.
  18. Although she generally followed rules, she loved to speed.  She never got a ticket.
  19. I get my cleaning OCD tendencies from her.
  20. When I was in junior high, my mom would paint my fingernails with amazing designs.  My fave was the time she painted my nails to look like tuxedos.
  21. I wore her senior prom dress to my junior prom because class never goes out of style.
  22. Her face when I tried on wedding dresses.
  23. Her face when she saw me in THE wedding dress.
  24. Those 15 minute lectures that lasted an hour.
  25. I used to love jamming to Karma Chameleon with her.
  26. In 2002 I got heat stroke and stayed in bed for days.  She read Anne of Green Gables to me.
  27. Her smile.
  28. The deep, throaty "oooooo" sound she made when she scratched animals on their chin.
  29. No one will make chicken marsala the way she did.
  30. The woman was terrified of spiders---but I got her to hold a tarantula and smile.
  31. Going on the roller coaster on New York New York in Vegas.
  32. Giggling at my dad as he danced to rap music on a pirate cruise in CanCun.
  33. Feeding the ducks at Disneyland.
  34. The time she caught me trying to light a cigarette butt.
  35. The fights we had about not being a pack-rat (I outgrew this phase).
  36. The way she used to brush "Kitty" for hours.
  37. Whenever my checkbook was off, I knew she could find the error and fix it.
  38. She loved to go to Baskin Robbins where she'd get a scoop of Jamocha Almond Fudge and a scoop of Kaluha and Cream (and when that flavor was gone, Pralines and Cream).  
  39. Once it took her an hour--literally--to eat 2 scoops of ice cream.
  40. It was awkward but she went with me to buy my wedding night and honeymoon boudoir. 
  41. When I got back from my honeymoon, she asked if the sex went well.  Again, awkward!
  42. She never could figure out how to cut and paste and I used to get so frustrated trying to teach her.  But hey, my father in law isn't sure you are supposed to type in the address bar so I guess she was more advanced then I give her credit for.
  43. She could remember the sandwich orders of at least 50 regular customers.  
  44. Although she was a business owner, her businesses all included service. She treated her customers with kindness and respect even when they treated her with condescension and disdain.
  45. There was never a chocolate the woman didn't like.  Especially if it was a Reisen.
  46. I used to freak her out by rubbing velvet on her.  The feel of velvet gave her the heebie jeebies. I still don't get it.
  47. She did not like heights.
  48. Even though she pretended to think it was inappropriate trash, secretly my mom loved 90210 and Melrose Place.
  49. My mom forced me to cut my hair when she didn't think I was taking good care of it.  I don't have the right face for a pixie cut.  My bone structure is all wrong.  I've forgiven her.
  50. My mom tried to convince my sister to name her child Eaton Klindt.  She never got why this was both totally inappropriate and hilarious.
  51. She bought a Volvo XC90 because I told her they were awesome.  I was right.
  52. When I got my first period she didn't have much sympathy.  She was like, "here's a tampon, let's go."  I'm so glad she didn't let me lay around and mope about the whole thing. It's natural--why act like it's not?
  53. Telling her I needed a bra was horribly embarrassing (not to mention a total lie).  
  54. When I was in labor and getting wheeled back for an emergency c-section I saw her crying.  I was irritated because it was about me, not her.  But now that I'm a mom, I get it.
  55. On the Christmas we insisted she go to the Mayo Clinic we had a massive family fight. The sons-in-laws and kids took refuge in the basement.  This is just the way we solved problems--loud voices, passionate debate, anger, and a plan.
  56. My mom did not get gray hair.  Can I get an Amen?
  57. I remember the poem I wrote telling my parents I was pregnant.  And I remember my mom calling to make sure she understood the poem correctly.
  58. I love to sing in the car. I can't hold a tune.  I got both of these qualities from my mom.
  59. There has never been anyone who could more effectively cover a mall with speed and accuracy and without need for food, drink, bathrooms, or a break.  To say she was a professional shopper is quite an understatement.
  60. She never knew that I knew but when I had my first child, she came in to watch me "sleep."  She just stood in the doorway and watched me--the way I watch my babies.
  61. My senior year my dad was traveling.  I came downstairs for breakfast.  We had chocolate cherry cake and vanilla ice cream. Best. Breakfast. Ever.
What I think is counting blessings--counting memories can't erase the pain but it can bring peace.  That in and of itself is a miracle.  Peace in the storm.  

See that comment section?  Why don't you share a memory/blessing of your mom?

Thanks, Shell for letting me Pour My Heart Out on your blog.