As I was making my coffee this morning two deer walked right past the kitchen window. It’s always magical to see them up close, don’t you think? I took my cup and went to the porch to sit in the director’s chair Mom always sat in and looked out over the lake. The sky is blue again, just a few lacy clouds, the sun is rising and warm on my face. It’s going to be a warm day.
I can see the single yellow rosebud that has bloomed from the small bush under the eave this summer, reminding me of Mom’s eternal beauty and presence.
The wind settles, starts up again through the trees and creates a cocoon of solitude. Only the voices of crickets and birds compete, gull’s high pitched calls, warbles and chirps from all directions, creating nature’s symphony.
Mom would sit here absorbing the beauty, a panacea for pain in her later years. I know she’d be happy to know that I’m here alone with nothing but hours to fill as I choose. She would sit for a long time in this spot, praying and being with God. If I happened to come and join her, she always welcomed the company although now I can imagine that I was a bit of an intruder. It was her sacred place. But there was nothing she loved more than to have her family around her.
And this was overlooked at her service. Her years as a young woman were covered. Her work as an accomplished musician and many church ministries were acknowledged, but nothing was mentioned about her most precious work and most thankless: being a mother. None of our names, John, Joan or I weren’t mentioned, it was like we weren’t a part of her, and apart from God, her family, her children were everything. I’ll take responsibility for that, eldest daughter. I could say there just wasn’t enough time to fit it all in. But it was more than that. Death is messy.
She made our clothes. Hand-stitched coats and dresses, shirts and pants. She made Dad a plaid bathrobe that still hangs in the attic and even the patches have frayed but I can’t bring myself to toss it or turn it into rags. She sewed her own clothes. Picking out McCall’s and Simplicity patterns from the large books in fabric departments with rows of material, buttons, zippers, lace and rick-rack was more fun than buying clothes with her. Or at least as much fun. More fun for the imagination. The day her new Singer sewing machine arrived, she set it up on the front porch and demonstrated zig-zag stitches. This began a new era. She made pillows out of bright and bold Marimekko prints and cushions for chairs, bedroom shades and living room curtains.
Her kitchen was not a place to mess around but we did. Exploding milkshakes from the blender, burning her copper-bottomed pots and pans making midnight batches of popcorn. It wasn’t a large space but we could work together, you only needed a good sense of who was doing what, when. We had that. A part of her remains in the dishes and glassware and pottery platters I use daily. Her voice remains in her cookbooks with her tiny scripted notes in the margins.
Her music was the voice of her soul, a conversation with God, whether Chopin, Debussy, Hymn or Improv. She loved to have everyone gather around the piano and sing. At Christmas Mom and Dad would try to make recordings to send to relatives with Ed, John, Joan and me. Mom would play and Dad would record. Kids would start laughing, we would stop and start over, over and over. We would cover our ears and not look at each other. One of us would break up and the rest would follow. So my parents send fruit boxes for gifts instead.
We Went to church regularly, camped and traveled together as a family. We fought and prayed, laughed and cried together like any family. And as time passed and tragedy struck, we stuck together.
She led like a pioneer from start to finish. She never lost hope and she passed it on to others. Her beauty came from her heart, she loved with all her heart, she loved her Lord, and that’s her legacy
I know she’s with Him and I have a rose as a reminder today, and a promise for tomorrow that we’ll be together again.