Today is a very special flashback/good memories/wishing-for-what-could-have-been. I'm a day off, but tomorrow is my mom's 70th birthday, a milestone she'll be celebrating in heaven. She's been gone almost 14 years, and I can hardly believe it. She is forever 56 in my mind, actually even a bit younger since her short time being 56 was filled with an illness that made her not herself.
I still miss her so much, and will until I see her again. I've so missed having her be a part of my children's lives. She would have loved them greatly, and they would have loved her right back.
What's sad about the passing of time, is that memories of people you love start to change. My memories of her use to be like watching a movie in my mind...all moving pictures with sound, etc. Now my memories are more like snapshots in my mind. The animation has faded. But there are some memories still vivid of who she was that will stay fresh as long as I choose to remember. So here are some fun memories of mom...
She loved black walnut ice cream. Ice cream in general, actually. When she got to the end of the carton, she would leave one spoonful in the bottom, so if someone asked her, "Did you eat all the ice cream?", she could answer truthfully that she had not eaten it all.
She loved to make popcorn balls on Friday night. She was not too fond of sharing them.
She was not known to be the best cook, but a few things she made very well. Caramel pecan rolls, Mississippi Mud Cake, peach pie, lasagna, hamburger gravy over mashed potatoes, meatloaf, to name a few. Truthfully, there weren't a lot more than that. Her hamburgers were always painfully dry. She loved making stuffed green peppers, though she may have been the only one who liked them. Oh...and she made great Saturday morning breakfasts. Sausage, fried eggs and biscuits. Mmm.
She was a voracious knitter. Loved to fix herself her nightly cup of tea and sit down to knit. My all-time favorite Christmas present was a hand-knit sweater from her. She had made all the pieces and they sat in her knitting bag for a loooong time while she went through her surgery and subsequent illness. She eventually lost all her vision and couldn't finish the sweater. So instead she took it to a knitting shop, explained the situation, and they finished the sweater for her. Would not accept a penny for their work. I hope whoever that was knows what a precious gift that was. I've never worn it, because I'm so afraid something would happen to it. I hold it now and then...and just remember.
She grew beautiful roses. This was a love passed down from her mom. They were gorgeous, and one of the few times I saw her seriously, crazy angry was the day our yellow lab ate an entire rose bush from her garden. Ate it. All the way down to the ground.
One trait I especially admire about her is that she just did not speak unkindly about anybody. She always held her tongue, even when I knew it was so hard. She always looked for the best in people. She always found a positive spin to put on a tough situation. Even when she was very, very ill and life was getting very tough for her, I remember her saying, "Oh, I know so many people have it so much worse than I do." And she truly believed it.
She did not like complaining. I remember many times telling her of something I thought was perfectly acceptable to complain about, and her response would be, "Well, this is a great opportunity to practice forgiveness." (or patience or any other thing I needed to be practicing.)
One skill she totally lacked was athleticism. If you ever said, "Mom, could you throw me the ( )?" Whatever it was, as soon as the words left your lips, you immediately regretted it...and then ducked! She could be looking right at you, pull her arm straight back, and then shoot something off so far to the side it looked like it must have come from a mysterious third arm.
She left us too soon. I had so much more I wanted to share with her, so much more I wanted her to be a part of. But I know that she is in heaven. She had a heart for Jesus, she fully anticipated a life with Him when her life here was done. So there is peace in that. I wonder if there are windows in heaven. I like to believe so. I think there are moments so special that Jesus Himself must say, "Come here, look at this!" I have thought of that on the day each of my babies was born. My firstborn, just a couple months after she died. I needed that new little life. And I believe she celebrated with us. My second born, who came out looking so much like my mom it was difficult for me to absorb. A daughter. Finally, I was once again a part of a mother/daughter team. And my third born, a surprise to us, but such a gift. And the day I hurt more than I thought humanly possible when we thought Beth would be meeting her grandma way too soon, I think maybe she joined in with all those prayers, literally at the feet of Jesus, for her granddaughter's healing.
And here's the thing...prayer is just conversation with God. And she is in His presence in heaven. I believe that with everything within me. So tomorrow, when I am longing to make her a Mississippi Mud Cake and get her some black walnut ice cream and tell her Happy Birthday and that I love her, I'm going to trust my God to give her that message for me. I'm asking Him to tell her I'm thinking of her. Tell her I'm doing great. But to also tell her I miss her like crazy. Still. Always.