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She's Flying Away

When my sister called me with bad news this morning, I feared that perhaps someone we knew had died in the Paris attacks. But this tragedy fell closer to home: my mom, age 72, was found dead this morning at home. She was so many things to me: a friend, a confidant, an inspiration. The title of this post comes from the Alison Krauss song "I'll Fly Away," which she always said she wanted played at her funeral.

While I gather my thoughts, and while we figure out how and when to travel to my hometown, I'll share with you a couple things I wrote about her. She didn't like photos, so I give you words.

How My Mom Made Me the Mom and the Writer I Am Today

One of my favorite pictures of my mother is one she'd never let me show you: a photo of her in a bathing suit on the beach. And even though she was a decade younger than I was when I first discovered that photo in my 20s, she wore the same serious, somewhat pained look she's worn on nearly every photo ever taken of her. It's a look that says: "Do you really have to take that photo? Well, get it over with."

For my mom, teaching me to be a woman didn't mean showing me how to do my makeup or crimp my hair. She's never been one to value appearance over substance. To the contrary, she encouraged me to be a kid: to climb and explore and rip my pants. (I can't tell you how many patches she sewed onto my pants with loving care.) She taught me to think and question; she told me family ghost stories and encouraged me to share my thoughts about books and movies. When I was a teenager, we spent long hours taking bike rides in the country, where we would explore an old church cemetery and tell each other stories of the people whose names intrigued us. A gifted amateur artist, she taught me to see art and beauty everywhere, and -- through words, art or music -- to express what I see.

My mom was one of my first, best friends, and she is the reason I am the mother -- and the writer -- I am today. When my son and I explore parks and tell each other stories about the animals and plants we discover there, when we color pictures together, or read books, or sing, I think of how my mom showed me -- not by saying it, but by living it -- that I was beautiful, valued and special, inside and out. Thanks, Mom.

Mom's Kitchen

You used to wonder if I was trying to help, but I
just liked the sounds of pots and pans.
Now your grandson bangs a cookie tin,
pulls plastic bowls from the cupboard.
Branded with my same birthmark, a forehead V,
he is a changeling child, akin to faeries,
blessed with language, babbling constantly.
A-bubble with words. Like mother, like son.

So knowing all this, I ponder what I take
from you. Besides blue eyes, a sense of wonder
at flowers and mountains, what do you see
of you in me? That joy in living, easy laughter,

the penchant for storytelling? A love of music,
which filled our house as you cleaned? Or
maybe just the way I wrinkle my nose, as
he does too, when thinking hard?

These molecules we pass, like maps, one
to the next. A soupy miracle, which manifests
in little limbs, and faces, and eyes. Finding
new paths, a new will to slam the pans.

And here's the Alison Krauss song. God, I miss her already.



( 39 comments — Leave a comment )
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Nov. 14th, 2015 03:46 pm (UTC)
There are no words. I am so sorry. *hugs* These are beautiful tributes.
Nov. 14th, 2015 05:15 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much. I happened to remember about them because they were both published on Associated Content/Yahoo! Contributors Network, and I was going through the articles I'd written for them to decide what to republish on my blog.

I just can't believe she's not here to talk to.
Nov. 14th, 2015 04:05 pm (UTC)
Oh, Alyce. I'm so sorry. What a terrible shock for your family. My thoughts are with you all.

Nov. 14th, 2015 05:16 pm (UTC)
Thank you. We were very lucky to get to see her last weekend at my niece's birthday. I could never have imagined it would be our last time to see her.
Nov. 14th, 2015 04:21 pm (UTC)
Hugs and Prayers to you and your family. There are no words that can ease your pain at this time. I am so sorry just isnt enough. I am here if you need a friend's ear and shoulder.
Nov. 14th, 2015 05:17 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Sandy.
Nov. 14th, 2015 04:36 pm (UTC)
I am so sorry for your loss. Hugs! I am sure she was a great lady.
Nov. 14th, 2015 05:18 pm (UTC)
She really was. I hope someday to be able to do her justice.
Nov. 14th, 2015 05:09 pm (UTC)
A beautiful tribute. We are blessed to call our parents friend. Love, Mandy
Nov. 14th, 2015 05:18 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much.
Nov. 14th, 2015 05:49 pm (UTC)
I'm so sorry for your loss.
Nov. 15th, 2015 05:38 pm (UTC)
Thank you.
Nov. 14th, 2015 06:26 pm (UTC)
I'm so sorry, Alyce. Lots of virtual hugs for you and yours.
Nov. 15th, 2015 05:39 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much. All the outpouring helps.
Nov. 14th, 2015 06:29 pm (UTC)
Oh no, I'm so sorry for your loss. :(
Nov. 15th, 2015 05:40 pm (UTC)
Thanks. It is so hard to believe.
Nov. 14th, 2015 08:13 pm (UTC)
So very sorry. *HUG*
Nov. 15th, 2015 05:41 pm (UTC)
Thank you. I am just so lost.
Pamela Walter Rickrode
Nov. 14th, 2015 08:47 pm (UTC)

I always thought of your mom as sophisticated. I love my mom dearly but she would admit that she is a bit country bumpkin, and I suppose I was too. Your mom shared things with me that were new and exciting. Some were small and silly like delicious Oscar Meyer bologna sandwiches at Lake Chautauqa, I had known own Lebanon and deer bologna. Memories of opera and the open air concerts at the Lake stick with me still, we had so much fun. Your mom welcomed me like an extra kid - I remember trips to Fractville and the good times we had in the car. Your mom was a  great cook -I loved her mushroom soup with ground beef over rice (forget what she called it) and she even got me to like broccli and asparagus! Your mom dressed fashionably and listened to or at least tolerated "our" music, I considered her cool. Like the canvases she painted, she left beauty on all she touched - three great kids and fond memories to all her knew her. My prayers and thoughts are with you, after losing my dad last Christmas I still struggle with his loss - my only advice is focus on the good stuff.
A Friend Always....Pam

Nov. 15th, 2015 05:42 pm (UTC)
I am not sure you will see this reaponse, but it means so much to me that you shared such lovely memories.
(no subject) - Pamela Walter Rickrode - Nov. 16th, 2015 12:15 am (UTC) - Expand
Nov. 14th, 2015 10:38 pm (UTC)
I'm so sorry for your loss.
Nov. 15th, 2015 05:42 pm (UTC)
Thank you
Nov. 14th, 2015 11:04 pm (UTC)
Sorry to hear the news, Alyce. You and your family are in my thoughts.
Nov. 15th, 2015 01:31 am (UTC)
I am so sorry for your loss. *hug*
Nov. 15th, 2015 05:44 pm (UTC)
Thanks. I feel ao anxious and frazzled. Couldn't sleep last night. I hope being eith family helps.
Nov. 15th, 2015 03:40 am (UTC)
Oh, no, Alyce. She sounds like an amazing woman who gifted you with so much.

I'm sorry for your loss. Keeping you and yours in my thoughts.
Nov. 15th, 2015 06:08 pm (UTC)
She was the woman I wanted to be. Thanks.
Nov. 15th, 2015 05:02 am (UTC)
I'm so sorry to hear this [[hugs]]
Nov. 15th, 2015 06:09 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much. The kindness helps.
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( 39 comments — Leave a comment )

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