Sunday, March 6, 2011

Shuffling through the papers I found...

There is a hallway downstairs that leads to the laundry room.  This small stretch of space is the way into my house from our garage which means it is Grand Central Station.  There is also a bathroom on this hallway, so when we get home in the afternoon, we are falling over each other to get in, get to the toilet, and get our hands washed.  Add to that the fact that three delirious, people-missing dogs are jumping all over the three exhausted, snack-needing humans, and, well, let's just say that many days I am an epic failure at keeping my cool.

When we moved in several years ago, my daughter was only eight months old, and my son had not yet started kindergarten, but I had visions of the future.  I couldn't wait for my children to be precious school kids with colorful backpacks loaded down with art work that I would cherish forever.  I decided that this hallway would be the perfect place for a rack to hang their darling bags and sweet, little coats for quick retrieval when heading out the door each day. 

Above the coat rack, we mounted a huge cork board intended to be the new home for all those papers coming in each week.  I'm sure you know what I'm talking about.  There are usually no less than six-hundred pictures, math sheets, carefully labeled maps of Africa and at least one draw-the-line-to-the-opposite-word worksheet that wind up on my kitchen counter.  If I knew no one was looking, I would chuck every last one of them in the garbage, but because there are surprise inspections of The Board, I have to carefully choose the best and mount them as a means of honoring the fact that my daughter has mastered simple addition and that my son got an A on his algebra test.

For as militant as I am about keeping the rest of my house clean, I tend to let the The Board get a little overgrown, so to speak.  The drawings start to interfere with the hanging of the backpacks, and the pushpins holding the treasures start to falter with the responsibility of keeping in place a stack of papers at least seven deep.  Each time you walk by, the breeze generated by your passing causes ruffles and occasionally a casualty hits the floor.  I'll cram it back up there and vow to address the over-crowding another day.

Saturday morning as I was bringing laundry from the dryer to my bedroom, I struggled past the The Board with an armful of clothes, bumping into backpacks and ripping down a picture of Horton Hears a Who in the process.  Finally fed up with the mess, I decided it was time for a schoolwork purge.  I put the laundry basket down and started randomly pulling off papers, surprised at how out of date much of the display had become.  Then, as I lifted a carefully drawn snowman from the corkboard, I saw it.  It was faded, and strangely juxtaposed beside my daughter's crayon drawing of our family and a flower made of construction paper, but there it was -  a newspaper clipping of my mother's obituary, apparently posted on The Board two and a half years ago.

I stood there for a moment wondering why in the world I felt the need during those black days to advertise my mom's passing on The Board.  It isn't like I was apt to forget about it, and of course, I knew the details of her death and funeral service intimately.  For reasons that escape me now, I was compelled at the time to put a reminder of the most gut-wrenching day of my life right there beside foam cut-outs of butterflies and hand-made name tags from summer camp.

I took the fragile-looking paper in my hand without removing it from The Board, and I read it voraciously, like I had never read it before.  And then I got mad, madder than hell.  I looked at the beautiful painting that my daughter crafted of the sky in winter time and felt cheated because her beloved Granny never got to see it.  I thought about the announcement for my son's induction into the Junior Beta Club and wanted to scream at the top of my lungs that my mother should have been sitting in the audience with us that night.  Some days - and it doesn't matter that I'm forty-two years old - but, some days I just want to talk to my mama, damn it, and it makes me mad as hell that she isn't here.

I left it on The Board.  It felt wrong to move it.  I obviously placed it there for a reason, not realizing that I would uncover it two and a half years later, and understand all over again that I miss her desperately.  I'll continue filling the board with the keepsakes my children are creating, and let my mom's watchful eyes stay in the middle of the chaos...just like always, just like she never left us.


  1. Touching and beautiful. Your Mom is smiling tonight. Just remember she is always with you whenever you think of her.

  2. I really enjoyed reading this Lynda. Like you, my mom has passed. I find little reminders of her on a daily basis.. and find myself a bit perturbed if I miss a day and she doesn't show up. I find myself looking in the chair next to me at my kids' school when they are receiving an award.. or at a dance recital... or just a moment of them being 'them'! My oldest Kayal's high school graduation was hard this past May.. But to be honest, she was SO there. It has been 11 years since she and I have had a talking/hearing conversation.. but in our own way.. we talk daily. She is there... as is your mom Lynda.. She is there.

  3. Sandi, you are SO right! We have regular moments around the house when we just assume the unexplainable is my mom making herself known. She definitely hasn't left us completely. :-)

  4. Lynda,

    Ain't it funny... I know you from your writing and the few words we pass back and forth through blogs and email. As a I read this I hurt for you. I care about you like I would someone I grew up with.

    Could I really say we are friends? No. Do you feel like a friend? The answer is yes.

    The conversations we (you and I) have are deep and funny and sometimes sad. They are one sided as I read what you say and make a short comment. But... you influence me. You make me laugh, you make me sad, and you make me think.

    You have touched the life of a stranger 6000 miles away in Germany. You made a stranger care about you and your life. You make me want to call you a friend.


  5. Buddy, that is so sweet! I do understand what you mean. I'm an avid blog reader, and I feel like I know these people even though they may live in a remote village in Canada or a cramped apartment in NYC. The internet has changed the way we makes friends and communicate, and I really appreciate that you are a reader who cares. Thanks you!

  6. Wow, I know how you feel here. I have a picture on my nightstand, of my dad in his police uniform. Two days ago, Emme was playing with it, spinning the frame back and forth, and looked at me with the "who's this" look she gives when she looks at any photo. Immediately I thought "Dang, I wish you knew who that was! He was your granddad, the coolest guy I've ever known." He never met Jackson or Emme, never heard me play guitar or sing, never met my wife, never saw me graduate, never got to help me fix my lawn mower. Sure, we'll meet again...I really believe that. But it doesn't help the frustration of right now. Life is great but sure is weird sometimes. That's how it goes...

  7. And now, when you need to seek her, you'll know right where to find her.

  8. My goodness, I feel the EXACT SAME WAY!!!!!!!!!!! I have lived your second-to-last paragraph so closely it's almost scary. The emotions are always messy and confusing, even after 8 years this month. I'm so sorry.

  9. Having a sad memory day myself. My Mom passed away from Alzheimer's two years ago. I would give anything just to be sitting with her in her room right now. Sometimes we just need our Mom.

    1. So true. Alzheimers is horrific. My Mom could light up the room in her day...her day ended with the diagnosis for some. But not me. I enjoyed the seldom comments she made to family. I will never forget her hanging onto my Dad, all family around us. We were laughing about something, and because we were laughing...she had a moment. And looked at my Dad and said "I love you Bud"...we were speechless. Then she left us again. My Dad is 92 now. I hope he remembers that. I sure do. Hugs.

  10. Love. The first anniversary of my father's death is here in a few weeks, and I'm just going through the motions.

  11. Just beautiful!! Made my my heart ache for you!!

  12. Yup.

    I lost my best friend and biggest critic slash supporter out of absolutely nowhere 2 years ago---undiagnosed cancer, if you can even imagine. She was gone in a week. I am just 37, was only 35 then. There are days, moments of pure bliss and incredible desperation, where I am so angry she isn't on the other end of the phone that I could tear my hair out. This was not supposed to be my life. That was not supposed to be the end of hers.

    Unlike you, however, I do not have children or a partner to ease the pain. While you are completely justified in feeling cheated that your kids will not know their Granny (my Mama said I'd have been a hell of a lot better off if her beloved Dad hadn't died when I was 5), cherish the fact that you have them to kill off some of that pain and loneliness. They carry part of her in them. For that you are truly blessed :)


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