It's the simple things I miss.
Whenever I see a mother and daughter walking into a store, my heart longs a little. My mother had Alzheimer's and Parkinson's, and I thought she slowed me down, kept me from being somewhere, doing something important. I thought I was too busy for all this.
Still, we had our sweet times, and yes, I miss her in the simplest of ways.
Someone to be with. Someone who knows me better than I wanted her to.
Enjoy this excerpt from my book, Mothering Mother:
When I Miss Her
I miss Mother when I go to the grocery store. Since I’m no longer eligible to park in the parking spaces for the handicapped, I must walk by the light blue and white lines as I head across the parking lot that no longer takes me ten minutes to cross. I see Mother grip the handle of the grocery cart and remember the freedom this rolling walker gave her.
I still see her curved spine dipping, her stockings slowly sagging from above her knees and eventually bunching around her ankles. I see her silhouette, complete with a bright blue nylon cap and its hundreds of petal-shaped pieces that made her head look like a massive flower. Some people loved her hat, others made fun of it, snickered about it behind our backs, but there were a few who found her and her blue hat endearing.
I miss her as I pass by the bananas. She said they gave her potassium and ate one a day. I had to buy seven a week—not six, not eight—though I often cheated, hoping to tide her over a day or two. Sometimes I get the urge to eat one in case I, too, am low on potassium. Any fruit she ate had to be peeled, cored and washed until it practically no longer resembled anything that ever lived. Apples were pale and tinged brown, grapes looked naked and embarrassed without their skins.
I miss her when I pass the Little Debbie display. Her face would light up at the sound of me opening the cellophane wrapper of an oatmeal pie.
I miss not picking up her half gallon of milk, her apple juice and her frozen dinners. I knew which ones she liked—the meatloaf, beef tips and flounder, nothing with pasta, very little chicken. Ice-cream bars remind me of her dying, not living. I can’t bring myself to eat one, or even buy them anymore.
I miss her small talk with the cashier, the slightly condescending way she treated the help, and the times she surprised me with genuine kindness and humor.
As time went on, she took forever to get out her wallet, and two forevers to pull out her credit cards. She could no longer differentiate a Visa card from a debit card, from a license. She’d just let them pick, holding the plastic squares out innocently like a hand of playing cards. I always tried to catch her before she let strangers rifle through her entire wallet and checkbook.
By then, some of her prejudices had diminished and she chitchatted with anyone who caught her eye, regardless of race, which was a pleasant change, though unreliable. She insisted the baggers carry our groceries to the car, no matter how few we had, and she saw no need to tip them. I’d slip them a dollar or two after buckling her in. Tipping never was her thing.
Now I just go to the store like anyone else. No one to slow me down, no one to check on, no bananas to count, no Little Debbies to hide so she won’t eat them all in two days.
It’s just ordinary, and what once seemed a bother, is now missed.
Happy Mother's Day, mom.
Now you go everywhere with me. In my heart.
~Carol D. O'Dell
Author of Mothering Mother: A Daughter's Humorous and Heartbreaking Memoir
available on Amazon
Family Advisor at www.Caring.com
Syndicated blog at www.opentohope.com