Thursday, December 20, 2012

A Time For Everything

There is a time for everything, And a season for every activity under heaven: A time to be born and a time to die, A time to plant and a time to uproot, A time to kill and a time to heal, A time to tear down and a time to build, A time to weep and a time to laugh, A time to mourn and a time to dance.

It was just a year ago that my mom died.  My sister Ruthie and I were there holding her hand, stroking her hair.  Until jut a few hours before, she was lucid enough to make her feelings known.  Just the night before, she said her last words to Heidi on the phone – “I love you.”  The most powerful words of all.  

During that last week I read to her – The Little Prince.  But I didn’t finish it.  I sang songs to her from a list that she had made for me.  But I didn’t get to all of them.  I still have that list.  It is among my most prized possessions.  We watched a couple movies during those last few days – “The Help” and “Water for Elephants”.  Both of these were books she insisted that I read.  We spoke of the old days; she shared stories I had not heard before. 

Just exactly a year later.  And I miss her. 

I’m not sure what it is about anniversaries.  But they bring back such joy, right?  Birthdays, weddings, graduation dates.  Something about the human psyche takes us there.  Not sure why, but I never thought I would be one of those who would think back on the sad stuff just because of a date.  Just because we are in approximately the same spot in our orbit around the sun.  Turns out, I am one of those people. 

But it is not sadness precisely.  I remember that last week with my mom with joy as well.  We used every moment to connect, to reminisce.  And it’s probably strange but we laughed a lot.  And we held on to each other.  She was clear right up to the end.  My mom ranted about politics, and the silly public trials she so loved following.  She still wanted to know about what was happening in the world and what was going on in the lives of her children and grandchildren. 

That final week was such a condensed time of every emotion.  And it was a gift.  While I sit here in front of the computer crying because I miss her, there are still so many times when I think – Ruck would have loved this book or this song, or Ruck would have enjoyed that story about my classroom, or Ruck would have been such a comfort through Heidi’s medical procedure, or Ruck would have been so proud of our boys for their straight A’s in college.  Ruck would have loved getting together with her children when we make each other laugh, one upping each other’s knuckle-headed jokes. 

There are many times when I feel like I am looking at the world partly through her eyes.  And what a blessing. 

One year later, one revolution around the sun, and Old Ruck still has a powerful effect on me.  And it is good.


Chris Hass said...

So I'm just the opposite. Nothing in particular about an anniversary helps to bring back memories for me. Certainly not so much as something sensory - a song, a story, etc.

I do have one big anniversary of sorts coming up that I know I'll take notice of. In May I will turn the exact age my dad was when he suffered 3rd degree burns to most his body. Not long after that he was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and then colon cancer. To say it changed his life would be a gross understatement. I don't know why but I've been anticipating this day for the past fifteen or twenty years. I'm sure I'll write about it when the time comes.

Ruth Anne O'Keefe said...

We are in a different place this year. I hope we still have all the old skills but with some additional wisdom. We certainly have aged another year. Good for us.