So, yesterday was Mother's Day… the very first Mother's day that I haven't spent with my Mom since the time I opted to fly off to Florida to visit friends instead of stay home and spend the weekend with her, which of course I was reminded of often and without fail. You see, my beautiful mother (may she rest in joy and peace), was the grand master of guilt trips. As we often, under our breaths chimed when we knew we were about to be targeted, 'Pack your bags, you're going on a guilt trip.'
Honestly, I don't believe she did this to make our lives harder, or to damage us knowingly in any way. She was just one of those women, although stronger than the average lady and having survived too many struggles and heartaches to name, was simply not comfortable being by herself. In fact, I would venture to say that the worst days or nights of her entire life not truly when my father's health was at his worst and the end was on the horizon, but after he had passed on the occasions when the rest of us dare have anything we must do or life events that would give us any excuse not to be there, comforting her and helping her make it through the darkness of those lonely nights.
Mama was always the one to take care of someone else (kind of like I do but more so since she actually had someone stay in her life long enough for her to make a career out of being a doting wife and mother). Therefore, I believe that once she no longer had my father to care for, then of course it became painfully obvious that we 'chicks' had all flown the coop quite some time ago, she was left with an even worse case than ever of 'empty nest syndrome'.
Before my own divorce, my (ex)husband and I spend a lot of weekend nights visiting my parents, spending the night and camping out in the living room floor watching movies and acting like teenagers at a slumber party. Once Dad passed away, we still put forth much effort, along with my youngest niece who was still in school and not yet married at the time. Once my marriage began deteriorating and things began to fall apart, our visits changed, and lessened then I was basically coming down by myself, without my husband and nothing was really ever the same.
Once Mom's health began deteriorating, my sisters and I ended up staying in shifts, and we eventually had to ensure that someone was there with her every night without fail. It was a hard road, and a painful time of life. Still, the fact remains that every holiday since her passing this past November has been surreal and felt quite foreign to me. Our quiet moments, which seemed rather insignificant at the time, suddenly carry a heavy weight… early mornings drinking coffee and just visiting, or her favorite fish dinners, to times when we would cook together or at least collaborate on the dishes being prepared, or simply sitting in the humid summer air out on the front porch recalling our favorite memories that included Dad. Now everything our family is or was has become a fuzzy, yet warm memory like a movie I might have seen a few months ago. Is anything real? It all goes so fast, except for childhood. Those times, I guess, when you are so full to the lid with anticipation of growing up and getting the heck out of your parents' house, trying to find a life of your own and live it to the fullest with dreams still crackling loudly with the electric current of youthful hopes. Time seems to drag on, so slowly like the pouring of thick molasses over your hotcakes when you're starving to death and salivating over that first warm bite.
When all of your dreams come true, and you get everything that you had hoped for and worked for all throughout your fairy tale childhood, however, time begins smoking major crack and doing speedballs of unmeasurable proportions.
You think I should call her?
Well, let me tell you something, John.
The first 90 years, or so...
...go by pretty fast.
The first 90 years go by fast.
How would you know?
You're just a damn kid.
I didn't say it, you did.
Well, they do. They do go fast.
Then one day you wake up.
And you realize...
...that you're not 81 anymore.
You begin to count the minutes rather than the days...
...and you realize that pretty soon you'll be gone.
And that all you have, see, is the experiences.
That's all there is.
Everything! The experiences!
You mount the woman, son.
...send her out to me.
Everything happens so fast and is gone in such a flash that you truly are left with only the memories and all we really have are the experiences, just like the old man says above… So thinking on these things, and all of the things I have been through so far, and continue to put myself through, I am forced to finally deal with the fact that I am the only one who can load up my big fat brush with paint and make myself touch it to the canvas. I am the only one who can pick up a pen, or open up a text editor and start journaling or putting my experiences down in ink (be it digital or old fashioned) and leave my mark on this world, no matter how that is received. It is not important who thinks it's any good, or who loves it or hates it. It is important to make the effort to squeeze out those creations and talents that we were supplied with when we were so violently tossed into this realm of existence. We were not put here to sleep through it and exist, survive and "barely make it through by the skin of our teeth", we were put here to bleed, cry, scream, hurt, laugh, love and live… create to the best of our abilities something to make our mark upon this world, something that future generations or civilizations will discover or at least be somewhat affected by, if not inspired from? Every small remnant that we may leave makes some difference, to someone or something.
Mom left all of us (her children) and her love and experience for us to share, remember and pass on in whatever way possible. "What will I leave behind Mama?" I wonder as I begin another day full of possibilities and chances to do something noteworthy. "Yes Mom, what visible footprints will I stamp along this twisted and curvy trail that I travel as I continue learning, and trying to survive walking after you?"
If you have a mom, there is nowhere you are likely to go where a prayer has not already been. ~Robert Brault