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LJI Week 0: Dream State

This is my entry for Week 0 of LJ Idol, Friends and Rivals (therealljidol). The topic was "Introduction."

My Mom, in her horn-rimmed glasses
and 1970s plaid pants, holds baby me.

Just two weeks ago, I hugged her good-bye, and she smelled like flowers. My Mom loved gardening, painting, the natural world, and learning everything she possibly could. Now, at 72, she is gone as suddenly as if a tornado had whisked her away to Oz.

Though you might think it odd, the character Alice Johnson in "Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master" sustains me in my time of grief. I always loved the fact that she acquired traits from her friends as they died, giving her strength and allowing her to vanquish the enemy.

I know I carry my mother with me. Even though I didn't call her as often as I should have, I thought of her all the time, telling people stories about her, things she had said, the way she had raised me and my younger brother and sister. In recent years, as hip problems and arthritis forced her into activity, she plunged herself even more deeply into her artwork. Her favorite thing to do with her five grandchildren was an art or craft project. My five-year-old son, KFP, told me today that he remembered her showing him how to mix colors.

If I am kind and value peace, I get it from her. Nothing upset her more than someone acting cruelly. She taught us children to respect each other, as well as the world at large. When I reached dating age, she sat down with me and told me that she didn't care who I dated: no matter their background, religion, race, or gender, if they loved me, she would love them.

I get from her my appreciation for the beauty around me. Though I didn't cultivate her skill for the fine arts, I've been an avid photographer since I was a child. In the last few years, I would take close-ups of flowers and sweeping landscapes, print them out, and give them to her so she could draw or paint them. I loved seeing the results, and even as her eyesight failed in her last years, I admired her use of color. She drew with emotion.

My mother was a thinker, and we took long bike rides to talk about everything under the sun. We used to giggle, imagining that if I could go back in time to the late 1950s, I could have been her teenage best friend.

She taught me to love music: playing record albums while she cleaned the house. Her favorite were folk albums and the soundtracks to musicals. I remember spinning wildly to "Jesus Christ Superstar" until the carpet spun.

Now, a week into this loss, the thoughts keep spinning. They swirl through my brain: a mix of memories, hopes, and regrets. I still feel as if I should have done more to rescue her from herself. She had a never-ending litany of medical complaints, and despite our urging, she was extremely slow to address them. Only two years ago, she finally got the hip surgery that gave her greater mobility. It was good to see her walking again, but she needed so much more.

My friends tell me to focus on the memories, not the regrets. They are right. Mom would have wanted that. She always said she wanted us to sing at her funeral, and I'm sure she meant it. I don't know if we'll be able to, but we've arranged for a musician to play one of her favorite songs, "I'll Fly Away" by Alison Krauss.

Though she has already flown away, I carry her with me. Tonight, as I head to Philcon, I am wearing a charcoal Vera Wang soft T-shirt with a black outline of a rose, in honor of her love of flowers. In my ears I wear chandelier earrings with multicolored gemstones, because she always courted color. I am wearing little black half-boots I bought today, because her sudden death reminded me that I need to do nice things for myself, not just for others.

If I were a movie character, these external signals would show you that I'd absorbed her spirit. But what really matters is that I carry her in my heart, my mind, my skin and bones. Her DNA, her nurturing, her love and support. Decades of it. Living on.


( 24 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 21st, 2015 12:35 am (UTC)
This line - We used to giggle, imagining that if I could go back in time to the late 1950s, I could have been her teenage best friend. says everything.

Nov. 21st, 2015 01:50 am (UTC)
I think so, too. I was lucky that she was my friend as well as mh mom.
Nov. 21st, 2015 07:19 am (UTC)
This was a really lovely tribute to your mom. ♥
Dec. 8th, 2015 10:44 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much. I read all the comments while they came in but didn't get a chance to respond until now.
Nov. 21st, 2015 03:58 pm (UTC)
This was a really gorgeous tribute. It sounds like you were really lucky.
Dec. 9th, 2015 12:22 am (UTC)
Thank you! My siblings and I have been sharing a lot of remembrances of Mom, and we are all beginning to realize how much she taught us.
Nov. 22nd, 2015 08:45 am (UTC)
I will probably wear green to her funeral, when my mother passes. I hate green, but it's her favorite color.

I can't even begin to imagine your loss, but I can feel some of it through your words.

Good luck this season!
Dec. 9th, 2015 12:24 am (UTC)
Thank you. Without planning it, many people who came to Mom's funeral mixed black with something in a cheerful color: periwinkle, bright pink, kelly green, leopard print, butter yellow. I think it would have pleased her.
(Deleted comment)
Dec. 9th, 2015 12:25 am (UTC)
Thank you. I love that balloon icon.
Nov. 23rd, 2015 01:56 pm (UTC)
*Hugs*..it was nice knowing her through you..sounds like a life lived to the fullest..God bless her soul. Take care..<3
Dec. 9th, 2015 12:26 am (UTC)
Thank you. We are only just beginning to appreciate how much joy and beauty she brought to the world around her. It was wonderful to hear people at her memorial standing up and sharing similar memories.
Nov. 23rd, 2015 03:47 pm (UTC)
imagining that if I could go back in time to the late 1950s, I could have been her teenage best friend.

This is exactly the relationship I am trying to cultivate with my own adult daughters. I am so very glad your mother was able to enjoy that with you. You were blessed indeed.
Dec. 9th, 2015 12:27 am (UTC)
That is wonderful. I hope to have that sort of relationship with KFP, too.

I ended up using that thought in the eulogy I shared at her memorial service.
Nov. 23rd, 2015 11:02 pm (UTC)
I'm sorry for your loss, though what a lovely way to commemorate your mom - not just with words but acknowledging all the goodness you got from her.
Dec. 9th, 2015 12:46 am (UTC)
Thank you. It was my way of making sense of it, and I'm glad I did, because it helped a lot.
Nov. 24th, 2015 05:53 am (UTC)
This is such a great tribute! I'm sorry for your loss, you'd never expect a parent to go at 72 : (.
Dec. 9th, 2015 12:47 am (UTC)
Thank you. It was a big surprise, especially since other grandparents lived into their 80s. But it was a lesson in the importance of not putting off anything: good or bad.
Nov. 26th, 2015 05:53 am (UTC)
I'm sorry for your loss. Your mother sounds like she was a wonderful individual. *hugs if you want them*
Dec. 9th, 2015 12:48 am (UTC)
Thanks for the welcome hugs. As you can imagine, it's been a busy couple of weeks, so while I read every comment as it came in, I didn't get a chance to respond until now.
Nov. 27th, 2015 01:17 pm (UTC)
So sorry for your loss.

I've been reading introductions and they've made me think of songs. I don't have a song with words that I think can offer you anything at all. I have found great comfort in classical music when I've experienced hard losses. This piece by Schubert in particular has helped me through some hard times.

Enjoy playing LJI and, again, so sorry for your loss.
Dec. 9th, 2015 01:03 am (UTC)
I finally got a chance to listen to this beautiful piece of music. I love how it takes you through different emotional moods: light and airy, serious and angry, and then peaceful and resolved. It reminds me of the stage of grief. Thank you.
Dec. 9th, 2015 03:23 am (UTC)
Yeah, its a really moving piece. Schubert is often overlooked these days but he has some lovely pieces. Glad you enjoyed it!
Dec. 2nd, 2015 12:32 am (UTC)
These are really nice memories of your mom, and I hope they're a comfort to you as time goes by. She sounds lovely.
Dec. 9th, 2015 01:05 am (UTC)
Thank you. I expect they will be. You're right: she was really a lovely person.
( 24 comments — Leave a comment )

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