Mama Memories All Around

A couple days ago I saw that a purple iris had popped open in our garden right behind the house. I’m trying to remember if I got the plant from Mom, because she grew purple irises behind her house too. I can’t look at it without thinking of her.

So many things have that effect on me. I miss Mama. I miss the person she was before Alzheimer’s. I miss the quirky and endearing and even angry ways she expressed herself with Alzheimer’s. Any little thing, or nothing at all, can trigger a memory that makes me smile or tear up.

When I hang sheets on the line, I remember handing Mom the clothespins when I was young as she hung our sheets and how wonderful they smelled at night. When I bake a cake I’m usually using one of her recipes and thinking about her as I mix it up.

The petunias my daughter gave me for Mother’s Day remind me of Mama’s planters overflowing with petunias. The lilacs my husband picked for me from our bushes, shout of Mama’s love for them and how she’d fill big vases with bouquets every spring. The aroma that fills the house sings of Mama.

Today I was scrubbing our kitchen sink with Comet, and I smiled, because Mom used Comet. And somehow as I sprinkled it in the sink I felt connected to her, when she was younger and strong. I scrubbed the powder around and then left the paste to set for awhile, as Mom did.

On Monday we washed our sheets. After I stripped the bed, I thought about how it was a cooler spring day and how Mom would often open the windows and close the bedroom doors on such a day, so the bed could get a good airing as she washed the sheets. So I did the same. I smiled as I cranked the windows open.

So many things through out the day whisper or shout Mama to me. I’m thankful I had a mom who gave me so many sweet memories. She gave me lessons and smiles that linger. She gave me unconditional love that continues to comfort me through my tears. She taught me to believe and trust and follow Jesus which gave me certain hope for eternity.

Even when the memories make me cry, I won’t avoid them. I’ll embrace them. I’ll treasure each memory because they are gifts from my Mama. They are my heritage. And they keep Mama close to my heart.

I think I’m going to go pick that iris now and put it in a vase.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” Matthew 5:4

11212775_10207752137988009_8680551553552430897_n

Advertisements

Making a Plan for my First Mother’s Day Without Mom

I’m planning ahead this time. My birthday took me by surprise– I was so emotional the day before and the day of. I was missing Mom and at the brink of tears much of the time. I didn’t think my own birthday would hit me that way. But I’ve been somewhat dreading my first Mother’s Day without Mama. And now it’s nearing like an ominous black cloud.

So I thought I’d take some time to think and pray and prepare myself. And here’s what I’m thinking I’ll do, God willing…

I’ll remember that grief will be what it will be when it chooses to be. I can’t control if or when the waves of emotion hit.  I’m guessing Mother’s Day will be especially hard, but I could be wrong. Some days I can talk about Mom and feel strong. Other days I’ve had upbeat songs on comedy shows push me to tears! I just don’t know. But it’s okay. The Bible says, “There is a time to weep…” If it’s time, who am I to say it isn’t? It’s okay to cry when I need to. My friends and family will understand.

I’ll go to church, even though I know they will be talking about moms. I’ll go to worship God and to love my church family. I’ll remind myself that I still do have a mother, she’s just in heaven before I am. She trusted and loved Jesus and is with Him now having the best Mother’s Day she’s ever had!

I will take time to be grateful for the wonderful mother God blessed me with and for all the sweet memories we made together. I’ll look at some of our old photos. Maybe I’ll sing some of our favorite songs or write a letter to her. Maybe I’ll eat Pecan Delights because they were her favorites.

I will take time to enjoy being a mother and grandma. I will cherish whatever moments I have with my family. I will hug my grand-babies as much as they’ll allow and tolerate. I will kiss their chubby cheeks and delight in their charming ways. I will listen to my adult children and appreciate the people they have grown to be. I’ll even try to believe the sweet things their cards say. I will soak in the joy of seeing them together and feeling their hugs and love.

If weather permits, I plan to spend some time outside relaxing in sunshine and nature. I’ll picture how Mama brought me a small bouquet of lilacs and crab apple blossoms about twenty years ago, when my husband and I lost a baby to miscarriage. I found such comfort in those blooms grown in Mom’s own yard and picked by her own hand. I’ll pick my own bouquet and bury my nose in them and remember Mama’s love and thoughtfulness.

I’ll take some time to pray for others who are missing their Mama’s too. And I’ll pray for those who are struggling with other losses and hurts. I’ll pray for a mom I know who just lost her teenage daughter to suicide– a pain I can’t even imagine. I’ll pray for a dear mom friend who recently lost her own mother to cancer and now is facing her own scary cancer diagnosis with such faith and courage. I’ll pray for a young mom I know who is battling serious and debilitating health challenges. I’ll lift up family and friends to our  Abba Father who loves us all.

I’ll remind myself to depend on God’s grace. God gave me grace to get through more than eight years of Mom’s declining with Alzheimer’s. He gave me grace to keep her in her home and help care for her as she was fading away. He gave me grace to kiss her goodbye and sit down with my Dad and tell him myself that she had passed. He gave me grace and strength to do and bear things I never would have believed I could handle.

He will give me grace for each day, each hour, each moment of mourning that is yet to come. “And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.'” 2 Corinthians 12:9a (NKJV)

And finally, I plan to visit my Dad. And if I’m not choking up too much to speak, I want to tell him, “Thank you for picking such a wonderful woman to marry. She was an amazing mama and I’m forever blessed!”

cropped-img107.jpg

Featured Image -- 1131

Birthday Tears

I thought I was doing quite a bit better in this whole mourning process. I haven’t been feeling weighed down and on the edge of tears for the past month or so. Not that tears don’t sneak up on me sometimes. Because they do. But the emotions came in briefer blips, and haven’t been lingering for hours and days.

But even though the day is bright and sunny, the birds are singing, the apple trees are blooming and it’s my favorite time of the year, I feel the heaviness of heartache sitting on me again. I think it’s because my birthday is tomorrow.

It feels strange to me that my birthday would make me cry. It’s not about getting older. I think it’s because this is the first birthday I’ve had in fifty seven years without my mother. And I’m surprised it’s impacting me so much, since my mom hasn’t really known me for years. But there was still such a comfort in visiting her and just being with her.

Here are memories I wrote last year….

“Mom, it’s me– Cheryl. It’s my birthday today.”
Mama looks at me and asks, “What do you want to do?”
“I want to have a party with you.”
Mama looks at the massage therapist on the other side of her and raises her eyebrows and frowns a bit. It almost feels like she’s rolling her eyes at me.

But a minute later Mama reaches out and takes my hand. And she holds it securely for about ten minutes. And she taps my hand with her thumb as she holds my hand.
And I smile.
The massage therapist says, “What a gift!”
And I agree.

Thank You Jesus for my sweet Mama. For the life and love and example she gave me.
And for her soft hand holding mine today.

And here’s a memory from 2015…

I sit on the love seat and ask Mama if she wants to sit by me. She gets up from her rocking chair right away and shuffles over and plops down next to me. She leans her head on my shoulder and says something she’s never said to me before. She asks, “Will you take care of me?”
“Yes, Mama,” I answer. “I will take care of you.”

She pats my arm. She sings a bit of “I love you a bushel and a peck” with me.

I start “our” verse, “For God so loved the world…” I pause waiting for her to finish it.
But instead Mom says, “He did, I guess…”

I take out the bag of Mini Pecan Delights I brought Mom for Mother’s Day and we eat a few of them as we cuddle. And for a few minutes I forget about all the other challenges in life. And I soak in this gentle softness of sitting next to Mama.

12193321_10208387119422148_1403893446889809860_n

I miss Mama this year. I suppose I will every birthday. And I’m a little bit dreading Mother’s Day. But I’m so thankful for all the years I did have with my precious mama and all the memories that we made. I”m thankful for every word I wrote down, so I can picture and relive the moments again.

And I’m forever grateful that God DID so love the world, that He sent His only Son so that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16) And because of that, I know that even though I may miss a few birthdays on this earth with my Mama, I’ll have an eternity of birthdays with her to come!

1936193_1083751878362708_1849741565749206441_n