I wish time didn’t steal memories. I wish they weren’t so faded and worn around the edges. Sometimes, I wish I could play it back, like an old home movie, a visit back to another time. I wish I could remember my childhood more exactly. More specifically. Without the fuzziness that comes as the years pass. For me, I’d like to see what it looked like again … from this perspective … from the outside looking in. I can picture our house. I can picture us together. I know we were happy. Yet, the years run together and one gets lost inside of another. Here I am now, grown, a wife and mother, looking back today with a longing to remember us as we were back then. I want to feel it and see it. I want to smell it and hear it. I want it so badly.
I remember – I used to sit in church on Sunday mornings and touch her hands. I’d take hold of each one separately and trace them with my fingers. I’d touch them tenderly and examine her nail polish so closely. She had beautiful hands. She was always the most beautiful woman in the world. She still is.
I remember – sitting in the back of a hot car on a summer day. Making our journey across town to the swimming pool. Starring out the window and daydreaming of other places and times. My eyes and mind often looked elsewhere, but my heart was happy right where we were. In the car. Together. My legs stuck to the seat and our packed lunch between us. My mother, my brother and I. It was comfortable. I felt safe and loved. We were a team.
I remember – We spent a lot of evenings on our couch in the living room. We’d sit together and I’d put my head on her shoulder. I always teased her about how bony her shoulder was. It was, but it still felt right to me. There, we read countless books. We memorized the books of the Bible. I learned a number of Bible verses that I still carry in my heart today. We practiced our multiplication tables. We studied various subjects. We were together. Always together. There, in that very spot, I found God. And, I first heard about “the birds and the bees”. I listened to her and I poured my heart back out. We left that I house the summer before I turned 14, but when I look back, I will always see that living room. That couch. And, us. Learning and growing and reading and talking.
I remember – How we loved/love our shopping outings. Trips to the mall and out to lunch. It never really mattered what we were looking for or at. We were together. We were shopping and talking and bonding. It felt good. As I got older, it became one of my favorite things to do with her. We’d trek 3 hours to Columbus, for the “good” stores. We’d spend afternoons out and about. It was always more about being together than anything else. She is and always will be my favorite shopping partner.
I remember – My mother and father dated each other. It sounds like a funny thing to say, but they did, they dated. They were always a good example. We had regular babysitters so that they could go out. I loved to watch her get ready. I loved when she dressed up, painted her nails, and put on her jewelry. Like I said, she was the most beautiful woman in the world. She still is.
I remember – She held me close when I had my first broken heart and let me cry. I curled up in bed with her just so I could be close to her, close to someone who I knew would never stop loving me. She didn’t say much. She didn’t tell me that I didn’t know I love was. She didn’t tell me that I was too young to understand. She let me feel what I was already feeling. She was there.
I remember – Holidays. They run together, of course, and I have trouble separating them. I wish I could glimpse at the individual moments. I wish. But, what’s left in my mind is good too … a blended version where the holidays melt together and I’m left with — Making cookies on Valentine’s Day. Dying eggs on Easter. Wonderfully, wonderfully happy Christmas mornings. Costumes on Halloween, usually handmade. Family photos. Sitting in church together. Giving and receiving special presents. “Stores” set up in the elementary school where my brother and I could pick out our own gifts for our parents. Songs. Laughter.
I remember – Her picking us up and dropping us off at school, with our dog, Sandy, in her lap. My brother and I took turns trading stories with her. She knew our lives. She was our life. If the little things were most important, than she was in all of the little things. The millions of little moments that eventually added up to make me who I am today.
I remember – Shopping for my wedding dress. Shopping for her mother-of-the-bride dress. Planning and dreaming about my wedding. It felt all the more magical because she had just survived a very serious illness. She was still with us. She was with me on my wedding day.
I remember – Countless, countless phone conversations, about everything under the sun. Always about everything. Lovely, beautiful talks with the most beautiful woman in the world.
I see- My mother always has enough love to give me. To give our family. She has a loving heart and a stubborn spirit. She is our glue. She can be hard at times and she isn’t always open to new things. She is quiet and strong. She isn’t always perfect, but she’s closer to it than anyone else I know. She’s my best friend. She’s my mother.
Mom, I know you worry too, that you weren’t enough. But you were. As a mother, I understand that fear. I feel it now too. Every single day. But, you were more than enough. You were wonderful and beautiful and everything we needed. You were everything we wanted. My childhood was good. It was really, really good. Don’t ever, not once, doubt that. You gave me everything. You and Dad. You gave us a beautiful life. You were my mom. You are my mom. You will always be exactly what I need. You are my fresh air. You are my rainbow after the rain. YOU were the most beautiful woman in the world. You still are.