A grandmother is a mother who has a second chance

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

She was probably watching us cry

My blog friend, Fleur de Lisa, wrote a blog the other day and the "secret" about the girl listening to the voice mail of her grandmother brought a flood of memories back to me.

When my mother passed away in 1994, I lost my best friend in addition to my mother. We all went through the usual grieving process, painful though it was. But there were a few other things that were so typical of my Mom, made us smile, but also added to the sense of loss.

My brother, Tony, and I both lived in California while Mom was still in Tucson. We knew how much she missed us. Both of us called her a lot and, when she wasn't home, we would leave funny voice messages for her. Mom had a terrific sense of humor and making her laugh was one of our favorite things to do. What we didn't know was how much those messages meant to her. After she died, Tony and his wife, Nicki, and me and my kids were in Tony's living room going through some of the things we had brought back with us. We found a few cassette tapes and decided to listen to one. Mom had figured out a way to record our voice messages (and for a woman who broke out into a cold sweat using an ATM this was quite a feat!) and we had some teary-eyed fun listening to them. But then there was Mom's voice thanking us for the messages, telling us how much she loved us, calling us her "trophies" and saying a lot of other things that made us proud, but broke our hearts at the same time. We turned off the tape, finished our crying, and those tapes are still stored in my house. However I haven't been able to listen to them since that night. She knew we would only hear them after she was gone which made them that much more special and painful.

One of the things I took after she passed away was a small bible that she had in her bedroom. Several months later I was organizing some of the things of hers that I had kept, came across the bible, and flipped through it. There, on several blank pages, were letters to me! I had no idea. She had written them 15 years before when I lived in Denver. Letters about how hard it was for her to talk to me when I was hurting (I was going through a divorce while in Denver), how much she missed me, how proud she was of the way I was raising my own kids, how difficult it was for her to not press me for details and just wait until I was ready to talk, and other statements like that. Again, the tears flowed. Her death was such an overpowering loss and how I wished I could talk to her about the letters and her feelings.

Finally, Mom died on Easter Sunday in 1994. She had a seizure the Wednesday prior and we all flew back to be with her. When I returned home a week and a half later, there was an Easter card waiting for me that she had sent the day before her seizure. It took several months for me to open it. It was a sweet card with touching and funny comments in it (Mom never just signed her name - she always wrote a personal note in a card). I still have it in a small jewelry box on my dresser.

While these all sound like sad stories, they aren't. Mom was an incredible person. She gave us so much love and so much humor. And I have no doubt that a part of her was saying, "Heh, heh, heh - they'll find these when I'm gone." She was funny that way. And she left us with a legacy of love and humor that gets us through a lot of things.

Thanks, Mom!


Daisy said...

Thank you so much. I am now bawling like a BABY! Hugs to you... I don't pretend to be able to understand that kind of pain - not yet. Hopefully not anytime soon.

It's Me said...

ahh.....I'm crying my head off right now.

namaste said...

such a beautiful tribute to the legacy of your mom! she sounds wonderful!

Fleur de Lisa said...

I am crying again too, just as I did when I read the comment you left on my blog. Those tapes are such a special thing to have and your mom was clearly a very special lady-- something handed down to you and you in turn are handing down to your kids. What a treasure.