To Remember and Decide

Thanksgiving is upon us.  Last year I couldn’t think of Thanksgiving because my Mother just passed away.  A year later the holiday brings so many memories of her, particularly the Thanksgiving Dinner that she loved to prepare.  Like a few times in the past, this year I will make another Thanksgiving Dinner and as usual when I make a Thanksgiving dinner it will be far less irresistible than Momma’s ever were.  I am a trained Chef and a darned good cook, but to make a turkey and all the trimmings is something Momma was stellar at and I barely competent to compare.

As a small child on the farm I always enjoyed watching Momma stuff the turkey, but more importantly I knew her dressing mixture was going to be heavenly just as soon as that turkey was done.  Momma’s turkey, as well as the dressing brought incredible wafts of butter, sage and browning turkey as the hours passed waiting for it to be done.  Momma never rushed her turkeys.  In fact she got up early just to get it in and be able to watch over it and patiently baste it when necessary, making it moist and tender.  Oh as I write I can smell and I remember the taste.  I remember the leftovers and the unparalleled turkey sandwiches I could concoct from the slices of light and dark meat.

Momma was at her best on the holidays.  She loved cooking but more importantly she enjoyed making dinner for her family.  As in all families we had our traditional trimmings, each of course better than the next, each a little more fattening than the last, but it was worth every calorie.  As I grew up I learned to space myself just a little so that I didn’t get that full achy, sleepy feeling from the triptafan.   Yet, regardless of trying, the time arrived that made me realize that  if I didn’t stop eating I would surely bust.  Unfortunately, when I woke during the night I always sneaked out to the kitchen for another bite of that heavenly turkey.

The last Thanksgiving my Mother orchestrated was just two years before she died.  Momma had an idea and asked if I minded that she planned the table and the menu.  The next days following her request were days filled with surprises, shopping, memories and work for her.  At the time she was still able to go shopping, although bound to her wheel chair.  She had her list ready for shopping.  First to Joann’s Crafts and Hobby Lobby to see what was new in fabrics and decor.  Momma made her selection for the tablecloth and skirt, then on to deciding just which faceplate would make the table look the way she wanted.  While at the two shops she also chose leaves, a wonderful metal turkey and other items for the centerpiece.  During that little escapade Momma asked how she could make a big cookie for everyone, something once again that was goood, but also pretty.  At first I was a little confused and asked if she wanted this for the dessert.  No, that wasn’t the idea she had.  Rather than just give them a cookie Momma wanted it to be wrapped and placed at the table space in a clear bag.

After more shopping for food Momma arrived home ready to work.  That was Momma, but I cautioned her that we had plenty of time and tomorrow, after she rested we could begin.  The next day after, barely past the time I got Momma up and in her wheelchair, I was reminded she needed to start working on her special cookies.  Momma, with her right side paralyzed, in her wheelchair was determined to make the cookie dough.  I placed the mixer on a low stand by her, brought all the ingredients and in a fair amount of time she was ready for me to roll and cut the dough for her.

___________________________

Nearly a year ago I began this post.  As I reached the end of the paragraph above the line I stopped.  I couldn’t continue writing.  The memories became to intense remember that wonderful day.  I have kept the tablecloth and all the decorations, yet to this day I am unable to look at them with out missing her.

Last years Thanksgiving was fine.  I made a turkey and all the trimmings and as I sat at the head of the table I asked myself why did I do all of this because my guests could never know or understand the Thanksgivings from my past.  They were special to me and I knew that I did not like the idea of forging a new Thanksgiving of my own, particularly when most of the people I could have for guests only see it as another year.

I vowed that night that I would never try a Thanksgiving Dinner again.  This year I will be at my sister’s in Illinois.  If anyone can come close to the family dinner I enjoy so much is my sister.  I know that Thanksgiving Day will be and taste like it always did.

And then I shall return from Florida and prepare a Christmas/Hannukah Dinner, especially for my dear sister-in-law, who has become a new person  in my life who believes in me as much as my Mother.  Shirley, even though Jewish, understands that for me Christmas is a gay wonderful time.  It was significant in my family, yet held a different position of importance.  Thanksgiving Momma always prepared and planned.  Christmas was a time when we all brought a bit of us to the day and dinner to show our love for each other.  So, when Shirley once said to me I would love, just once to see a big white Christmas tree with sparkling packages under it and a house all decorated for Christmas, there wasn’t much hesitation to say to her, “This year Shirley will be your own White Christmas.”

 

 

 

Tis No Longer the Season!

Our last Christmas together–2008

Dear Momma,
Christmas seems to be never more.  This year possibly was the worst I have ever experienced.  Even my one Christmas in Vietnam was so much better.  This Christmas, I realized, just how wonderful all the Christmas’ you had prepared made that day even more special.  Each year, without question there were cookies, candy, fruitcake and more.  Each of the last years held sweet memories of you and I mixing the batter for your fruitcake.  Then, the last couple of years I smile as Sherry stood in the kitchen groaning as she mixed the batter, rather than laughing and chuckling as you and I did.

Sherry made cookies this year.   She said you must have been there to have guided her to even begin rolling out a cookie.  She questioned why she was making Christmas goodies she never did in the past, nor didn’t need since now, there isn’t anyone to make them for.  Ah, Momma, I think for once Sherry missed the Christmas past with you the last years and then before the Christmas in the little yellow house with Daddy, or on the farm with all of us including Aunty and Mike.  Oh Momma, those were the days.  Christmas Eve, after the packages were open we got to eat your cookies, candies and fruitcakes and sip on Iya Coffee.  MMMMnnn how sweet and delicious each morsel was and then to sip on the coffee nectar made the evening even more memorable.  But it was more it was the lights twinkling and the traditions that you formed for us to carry within us the remainder of our lives.

Yes Momma, the traditions are in me and I desperately missed them this year.  Last year you had just left and I was too upset to even know Christmas was happening, but this year it annoyed me that this one very special day passed without fanfare.  Next year, Momma, I will go to Sherry’s and bring fudge and especially one of your dark fruit cakes, soaked in brandy and honey as you always did.

Ah yes, Momma, you are missed more than you can even know.  But next year Christmas, you will be with me at Sherry’s and we can share the fudge and fruitcake and remember the golden years you formed for us and then one day Momma, you will make the most wonderful Christmas again in the place called Al Di La.

My love to you always, Momma
Buzz

To Know the Spring in my Garden

It is now Spring.  Not by the official date and not by the weather, but by amazing sights that I first saw as a child and did not appreciate.  Then, so much later in life these stunning sights became more poignant to me as I relayed all the things I was doing outside to my Mother.  As she lay in her bed, attentive and interested, she was ready to suggest or explain how I should understand what a garden needs to flourish.  Momma loved all flowers, although her favorite flower was the rose, in particular she was partial to The Abraham Lincoln, deep red rose, a white, Empress rose just tinged in the palest of pink and the very charismatic Yellow tea rose.  Each summer she looked forward to the many bouquets I brought from the gardens, but none of that would not have happened if she didn’t give me her love for making it all happen and appreciate how much a garden of colorful flowers can give you back.

Spring came this year not many days ago.  Yes, prior to now there was a premature, weatherman Spring and there was the official start of Spring that was followed by freezing temperatures, snow, sleet, rain, more rain, snow and rain.   Finally, April Showers began, much the same as when I lived on the farm many years ago.  There are days of rain and chill, a sky where clouds then break and warm rays of sun fall across the land, then possibly very windy days or nights filled with more rain or fine showers or a small group of warm, warm days with bright cumulus clouds up above.  Yes, it was that way this year and even though I should have been out earlier I had other projects to tend to.

As I begun my task of cleaning up my garden and yard I began humming an Italian song that my Mother and I always listened to in the afternoon.  It wasn’t until after my Mother passed away that I realized what the song, Al Di La, was all about.  Al Di La is a place, far, far above the clouds to a place where a loved one is that guides you and one day will greet you on your final journey.  I knew why I hummed this because Momma was there guiding me, up there, far, far above the white, voluminous cumulus clouds.   At that moment I felt peaceful to know she was there and as I babbled to my garden, I could also share everything with her as I always did.

First came the pruning of dead, perennial stalks and uncovering the little roses from their insulation of Canadian Peat Moss.  Next, as I worked from one side of the first bed to the other, the Spring came to me.  There as I moved leaves and debris carefully from the plants center the tiny shoots of new life greeted me for our first chat.  They are Spring, the little hidden, little leaves signaling new life as I am bent low and move leaves carefully to find the tiny, living treasures.  The next day after a night rain brings even more Spring to the little leaves and stalks because in one night they have tripled their size.  They are amazing,  they have returned to me one more year to please and bring color and texture to my garden.

Momma knew all this and simply by giving me some hints, or told a story, she imparted her knowledge of gardening to me.  Now Momma still guides my hand as she watches far, far above the white, voluminous cumulus clouds in a place that is called Al Di La.

Remembering You on your Birthday

collage

It is Momma’s birthday, April 22 and even though she may not be physically here, Momma is with me today to celebrate her life and remember how much she enjoyed the many parties I gave her on her birthday. Even when I was young, Momma loved her day, especially if my sister and I planned something. As a very young boy I used to think for weeks to determine what my Sister and I could do to make the day special for her and then we spent an equal time trying to decide what was a perfect gift, a gift just for our Momma.

There was more than one time our funds were not as abundant as I thought they should be. Momma was always willing to give me a little money. I used to think I was pulling a fast one on her, but as I grew up I realized Momma always knew what I was after.

After Momma and I moved to Arizona, following my father’s death, the real parties began for her. The first big splash was for her seventy-fifth birthday, a day Momma was very nervous about having it arrive. It was the only time Momma didn’t yearn for tomorrow. Earlier in the year all three of her sisters felt she would never make to seventy-five. There Mother died when she was seventy-four and for some ridiculous reason they felt Momma would leave first and follow in her Mother’s footsteps. Sadly, Momma did leave before they did, but they had to wait an additional dozen years for it to happen. I often wondered if they knew how mean they were when they suggested that to her.

In the years following Momma had many wonderful parties and she never was hesitant to have another birthday. Her birthdays were like her tomorrows. They were something that she needed to keep looking forward to rather than dwelling on the past. Even last year, her last birthday with me, was joyfully embraced by her. Momma always adapted and that day her strength was paramount. She had just been in the hospital, very frail and barely could speak loudly, yet she was ready to get dressed, sit on the sofa, rather than stay in bed. It was Momma’s day and the hair, makeup and dress had to be perfect for her. When we sang Happy Birthday I lit candles on a plate of pastel White Chocolate Nips as Momma’s cake. Her swallowing had become very weak and she was not able to eat, yet even those little nips with candles were very special to her.

Momma was and is a very special person. I shall never be able to equal her in humor, wisdom or compassion. She has always been my guiding light and continues to be. Many days I know my Mother’s hand help direct me through what I am doing. I know Momma is here with me now as I write and as I prepared the movie that will help share our special feelings during her memorable birthdays over the last decade.

Please join me in sharing my memories–

Remembering Momma’s Birthdays

Momma’s birthday was always a special day, even when I was small.  It was as exciting to me as my own, except that Momma’s was exciting because I planned for weeks what  we should do for her, buy for her or make for her.  For me, even then, it wasn’t a drudgery to do things for Momma that was special.  She loved life and especially loved the days like her birthday to see what we had up our sleeves.  Regardless of what we planned Momma always was estatic and pleased with our choices.  Momma always was fun, loving and appreciative.

When I entered adulthood I didn’t always have the time to give Momma a party or even bake her a cake, but the day was never forgotten; a gift was bought and sent or kept until I would see her, then first thing on the morning of her birthday I called to speak with her.  Usually she and my father had something planned for her birthday, yet Momma always needed to know what I was up to, regardless of birthday’s, Momma always was interested in how I was doing.

After my father died and Momma and I moved to Arizona I began giving her real birthday parties.  Each one was different and each one Momma looked forward to experiencing it.  So many times on the day of her birthday she was anxious to just get it going!!  Her best parties were her 75, 80, 85th and her last her 87th birthday.  I was afraid to not have a party on her 87th for fear it was her last.  It was and now this year I have all of these memories popping forth from my heart.  I don”t know how many times I have turned for Momma, not questioning that she couldn’t be here.  Maybe at all of those times Momma has been here and that is why I turn.

I miss Momma more than anyone can know. 

Momma was and is my anchor, a guiding force for me.  So often now I know Momma’s little hand is guiding me through a task.  She is here with me in all I do and tomorrow I shall be with her to share our memories of a truly remarkable person on her birth date.

I love you Momma and I shall be with you always–
Click to play this Smilebox scrapbook: Remembering Momma

A Guiding Hand Placed Just Before Us

Everyday I try hard to deal with grief and yet I miss my Mother around.  It is hard to forget the last 16 or so years when we were so close to each other.   Most of the regular tasks and enjoyments of life were shared with her.  Even M. occasionally admits that it isn’t the same and gets very sombre.  These past weeks in Arizona I realize just how poignant it is to remember and want the feel of the hug, the brush of the lips on the cheek for a kiss, the smile on the face or enjoy the willingness to always share  life and the want to accompany where ever you go.

No there isn’t much I do that Momma isn’t there or was there with me doing it.  If I wash clothes I then miss her doing the laundry.  Each towel perfectly folded on top of each other, smelling so fresh and fragrant.  Each shirt or pants pressed to the “t’s” and each sock alwys twinned with its right partner.  Some how my finished laundry is never as delightful to see, hold and smell as my Mother’s.

The passage of time may make these occasions seem less poignant in the future, but in a way I hope that it stays with an intensity that remains constant so that the tactile memories are still sentitive and clear.

Today a friend of mine asked me if my sister was like my Mother.  This led into a long and involved chat, because to answer the question simply is a “no”, but to be able to answer the question completely takes the time to give some interesting differences.  It was a pleasant conversation because I enjoyed finding some old memories to give exampes of the differences and similarities between my Mother and my sister.

As I reflect on so many wonderful memories, they do make my happy.  They also make me yearn for a touch or even the smell of cologne as you open her closet door upstairs.  More importantly, I am beginning to believe she is about, here or wherever, guiding and influencing the tasks and enjoyments my sister and I have. 

It is good to remember and yearn.  It is good to imagine the touch and actually remember tactilly what was felt on a past day.  All of that will lead me to smile brighter one day!!

 

 

Each week I do the laundry and you visit,

As I sort the clothes, I know it is you that guides me.

Put the Darks with Darks, Lights with Lights and I will remember

Whites are something different from the lights.

Sis wrote this week that you are in her and with her

as she scurries to bake and cook, to dust and clean!

It is you, guiding and inspiring her on to do all the things

you loved to do and what always are not her favorite!

 b

No matter what I decide to do, suddenly I feel a guiding touch,

Warmly placed upon my hand, a touch that says to remember you.

Now when I take a pot, grab a cloth, chop a carrot I feel you say

“check and see and know that just may be some dust is still under the bed!”

 b

Your touch upon our grocery cart, leads us to memories of family meals made by you and

directs our course through the aisles, as we look upon the items on the shelf.

We stop for no reason, smile and see that certain something sitting there upon the shelf,

That certain something surely missed when we are at home.

 b

Then at a another time as we travel along, first a shoe catches the eye,

Then a sweater, a scarf or particularly for me, the glistening gems in the jewelry counter,

The glistening colors beckon me to stop, first to buy for you and then I know its not to buy,

It is a moment to take to remember and be with you.

 b

Your little hand guides us both along our way, in and out of the house.

During the day or in the middle of the night you visit to help me on my way.

But, just to say that it is even more than your guidance that I treasure and Sis remembers

It is that you are in our hearts each and every day in a very golden way.

 b

Let Sis set her table when company comes with your china, silver flatware and fine linen napkins,

Watch me when I bake a tender cinnamon roll and bring it to the table hot from the oven,

Your tender touch will always be upon our minds, hands, and memories too,

That guide us to do the best we can and brings to mind the hundreds of your dinners upon those plates.

 b

You my Momma, you will always be there with us every step of the way.

As we travail upon our new forged path with memories tucked with in our hearts,

You will be there guiding us on and helping us to find our way through the strange new time,

Realizing that you have never left, but rather you are just leading the way.

A Guiding Hand Just Before Us


 
Lately, memories flood my head and I say at first that I know my Mother is still here.  It seems to surreal to think of her gone.  Even my sister, steadfast and outwardly can, begins to feel the feelings I get.  There is no way that you can’t think of Momma as here.  For a lifetime she has been here with us, so why should she not be here now.
If I think of it all like this, then I don’t feel so bad…….Momma is here:

 

Each week I do the laundry and you visit,

As I sort the clothes, I know it is you that guides me.

Put the Darks with Darks, Lights with Lights and I will remember

Whites are something different from the lights.

 

Sis wrote this week that you are in her and with her

as she scurries to bake and cook, to dust and clean!

It is you, guiding and inspiring her on to do all the things

you loved to do and what always are not her favorite!

 

No matter what I decide to do, suddenly I feel a guiding touch,

Warmly placed upon my hand, a touch that says to remember you.

Now when I take a pot, grab a cloth, chop a carrot I feel you say

To check and see and know that just may be some dust is still under the bed.

 

Your touch upon our grocery cart, leads us to memories of family meals made by you and

directs our course through the aisles, as we look upon the items on the shelf.

We stop for no reason, smile and see that certain something sitting there upon the shelf,

That certain something surely missed when we are at home.

 

Then at a another time as we travel along, first a shoe catches the eye,

Then a sweater, a scarf or particularly for me, the glistening gems in the jewelry counter,

The glistening colors beckon me to stop, first to buy for you and then I know its not to buy,

It is a moment to take to remember and be with you.

 

Your little hand guides us both along our way, in and out of the house.

During the day or in the middle of the night you visit to help me on my way.

But, just to say that it is even more than your guidance that I treasure and Sis remembers

It is that you are in our hearts each and every day in a very golden way.

 

Let Sis set her table when company comes with your china, silver flatware and fine linen napkins,

Watch me when I bake a tender cinnamon roll and bring it to the table hot from the oven,

Your tender touch will always be upon our minds, hands, and memories too,

And you will guide us to do the best we can and you will bring to mind the hundred dinners you served upon those plates.

 

You my Momma, you will always be there with us every step of the way.

As we travell upon our new forged path with memories tucked with in our hearts,

You will be there guiding us on and helping us to find our way through the strange new time,

Realizing that you have never left, but rather you are just leading the way.