Today I looked down at my hands as I patted Sally and I saw your hands. And I became sad and a little scared. I miss you so very much, and I wonder how I am to manage the years ahead, even though I feel the strength of your presence everyday.
I am so sorry for not understanding your pain and stress and feelings of loneliness after Dad died. Wanting Christmas and presents and birthdays and clothes, like life was normal even though I knew full well it wasn’t, was not my finest hour.
Bea is one of the most understanding mortals ever. I practically slept through her birthday. I didn’t and don’t always keep things going like you always seemed to do. I sleep some Saturdays away and put away rum and cokes pretty fast sometimes.
I remember you grieving for what I thought to be a long time. We had an argument once over you watching too much TV; I believe I had the nerve to say you were using it as a crutch. And look at me now? I have a nightly schedule made which I top up with Netflix and BritBox (I do watch a lot of mysteries though, you’d be pleased).
But this letter isn’t all about that sad, sad time in our lives.
I want to tell you how joyful I feel when I put in a wash. It’s one of the first things I do sometimes to get on track. And that’s because of you. You taught me the importance of routine and that no matter what tragedy comes our way, we still wash clothes. I remember you serving us pork chops, rice, and cranberries that evening of Dad’s death. The house seemed full of people and we sat eating, Todd and I, your nucleus.
When we were little and you were teaching, you would often leave us schedules, like a lesson plan, to follow with the babysitter (by our request). There would be coloring pages to complete, and crossword puzzle books to work in, perhaps a drawing page. All things that you put together before your day at school ever started. But what a wonderful thing that was you did for us. Because we missed you when you were gone, and those activities helped us pass the day.
When my father worked late ploughing snow and we missed his presence in the evening (as I now realize you did too), you played games with us like machine gun where you jumped out at us from your hiding spot, waving and shooting my brother’s toy machine gun, until sometimes I was reduced to tears. Amazing times! (You would have this isolation thing down pat) It’s what we did to help fill the hours until we were all back together again. A safer childhood we couldn’t have had.
And that encouraged me to seek the same for my life and how lucky I was to land a man who really was a lot like you in many ways.
You both were so very giving and spoiled me terribly. I can only say that I think of your kindness, and leniency with love. Both you and Pat helped me to see that showing your love and caring for others was so very important. It influences the way I continue to raise Bea and how I interact with my students.
When I was in the final few weeks of my pregnancy for Bea, you came for lunch everyday and we watched Law and Order on A&E. I loved that time with you.
And how lucky for Beatrice that she was able to spend almost every day of her first 5 years with you. I do not think a day goes by that we do not mention you, and I promised you that, do you remember?
Our last, real, two way conversation occurred on the way home from Moncton after a clear diagnosis. Practical as always, there were some particulars you wanted me to know, without really acknowledging the reason- what was really happening. That was a hard script, Mom, and I know how difficult it was for you.
Many who read this will remember you as a very private person, and somewhat reserved with all those but select immediate family. For that reason, I am not sure how you would feel about this blog.
I can only say that the shield has been broken and it helps to go through this terrible time by writing about it. I am still hard pressed to ask for help a lot of times, and I can withdraw quickly if the need seemingly arises. But this writing is working and I know that is enough for you to understand.
Mom, as hard as it is for me to end this letter with you, I will close for now, knowing that your presence in my life is still huge and only a thought away.
I think it’s time to put in a wash.