alycewilson (alycewilson) wrote,

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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.

Tags: mom

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