Looking in the mirror these days, I’m often startled when I see my mother looking back at me. When did I age? When, exactly, did it happen? And my neck, oh my neck. It’s my mother’s and it makes me shudder.
My momma would have been sixty-three tomorrow. Instead she’s been gone for nine years. She left this world suddenly and without fanfare, and somehow, her face has become frozen in time…never aging a day beyond 54. Forever beautiful, forever young. If I think just hard enough, I can still smell her…a powdery cloud of cosmetics, her dashes of perfume, and the spearmint gum she was never without.
Momma’s life was hard, sometimes brutal. It was filled with the things soap operas and saga-filled novels are made of. If it could happen, it probably happened to her at some point in her life. The pain of her life was heartbreaking at times and if I let my heart go there, painful enough to transcend one generation to the next.
Instead of sinking into those sad moments, I try to remember the things I loved so much about my mother. Her hugs – the squishy kind you only get from certain people in your life. She would tell me to hug her tighter and she would just hold on. Her utter devotion to reading – she fostered my love for it and we shared a love for books most of my life. Her never ending desire to have a better life, even though she never quite got there. It was her commitment to wanting better, needing better, that pushed my sister and I to become the women we turned out to be – determined, stubborn, sometimes feisty, loyal.
For years I believed that momma left the world without completion, but the longer I age and grow, I realize she completed so much more than I ever knew. She loved us without hesitation…what an incredible gift to pass onto others.
I often think of the day she passed as her re-birthday. In a better place, in a softer realm, she got to begin again. I see her there, her make-up flawless, her shy smile wide and not so shy anymore. And I know she’s glowing and happy and still forever beautiful.