Thursday, May 24, 2012

Now the Sweet - An open letter to Mama

What a wild ride of a year it has been for us!  I know the last thing you wanted to do was  pack up and come to Maine for an indeterminate length of time, but you did it.  I know how hard it must be to live with your daughters - but you have done it.  In fact, you are a survivor - and we are so proud of you!
You never cease to amaze me with your endurance and determination.  Sure, you have days when you’re tired and the pain seems to get the best of you, but most of the time you are willing to do whatever I ask with just minimal fussing.  You’ve said, “Let me try to do it myself,” and then you try.  If you don’t succeed, then you try again some other day.
Through it all, you still have your sense of humor intact.  Remember the first shower I helped you with here?  You stepped onto the mat, and said, “I feel like there’s something kind of hard under my feet.”  Busy, I replied, “Nah, that’s just the mat.”  You persisted, and when I finally took a look, I was mortified. I had put the mat in upside down and your sensitive feet were stepping on all the suction cups!   You just laughed, and then I laughed (after I profusely apologized!).  I’ve put your arms in the wrong holes in T-shirts, I’ve gotten tops caught over your head, I’ve put your pants on backwards, I’ve even put your shoes on the wrong feet and hit you in the head accidentally!   In spite of everything, you have laughed along with everything.
We’ve had a lot of fun while you’ve been here, haven’t we?  Many times I will say several sentences to you from a distance away, and when I wait for an answer, you look up and say, “You talkin’ to me?” - so much that Ed nicknamed you Robert De Niro.  We’ve laughed at Reader’s Digest jokes, chuckled at the comics in the newspaper, and cracked up watching Chris blowing music through dandelion stems.  You let Ed and me tease you about how we hate Lawrence Welk, yet we sit through it every Saturday night with you.  We’ve had a lot of giggling about how you never throw anything away - whether it’s chewed gum or used Kleenex or empty Aspercreme tubes.   Remember when you were enamored with the pretty scene pictured on the shoebox top, so I got a tack and nailed it to the wall like a fancy painting?
You always remember to show gratitude.  Every night when I help you in bed or help you rub pain medicine on your knee, you always thank me for everything.  You thank the kids for coming to see you, you thank your  friends and relatives when they telephone, you always thank Ed for cooking, and you even thanked your Maine doctor at your last appointment for overseeing your health care while you were here.  You never take things or people for granted, and everyone around you appreciates it.
Your financial generosity is overwhelming.  You are always trying to pawn off $20 bills to us or the kids for this and that.  I remember when my kids were little, we would bring them over for you to babysit and you would pay us $20 for the privilege!  Some things never change.
You’ve been brought into the technological world and see Facebook pictures as soon as they are posted, and have video chatted with all the grandchildren.  I always love to see Joshua’s face light up when you appear on the iPad screen and he says, “GG!”  (For those not in the know, that stands for Great Grandmother.)
I’ve been able to relive a lot of childhood memories these last few months.  When your radio falls off your lap (as it does about 4 times a day), I think of how Joy and I used to lie down in your lap during Sunday night church services.  How that lap has held grandchildren and great grandchildren and nephews for years and years!   Your body has a lifetime of stories.   You gave me life, and your eyes looked on me adoringly when I was a baby, your hands cared for me as a toddler, your lips gave me kisses and your arms gave me hugs, and your smile never let me forget that I was always loved unconditionally.   Now I have been fortunate to have the opportunity to take care of you for a little while.
We share common memories.  As I get older, there are fewer and fewer people left who remember Daddy, but I can always talk about him with you.  I have started many conversations with, “Remember when...?”  Sometimes you remember, sometimes you don’t, but we have fun reminiscing just the same.   
Well, we will always have those old memories, but we have made some new ones, haven’t we?  You have gotten to spend time with two of your grandchildren and all three great grandchildren.  You attended Joshua's first birthday party last summer, and  with your own eyes have watched him go from crawling to walking and running.  You have enjoyed personal violin “concerts” from Caroline and Charlotte (and even Rachel!).  You were here when Matthew began selling his own software in the Apple store.  You’ve eaten homemade applesauce cooked by Sarah, and vegan food cooked by Rachel.  Your favorite DJ, Rick, came by to see you last summer and this week even wished you happy birthday on the radio, then played your Old Bones song!
And now as I write this, you have received over 70 cards in the mail from people all over the world in honor of your 89th birthday.   You are indeed a special person to many, many people who send best wishes, and especially to us, your family. We will soon start that journey back to Memphis, which I know is stressful for you to think about, but you are one tough lady and can get through anything.  Be proud of yourself - you have survived a Maine winter.  Not everyone can lay claim to that.
We have been honored to have you with us for almost a year.  You have graced us with your presence, your humor, your generosity, and your kind spirit.  We love you so much.  We will miss you beyond words.
You favorite song these days is the poignant “Old Bones” sung by George Burns.  I’ll end this post with the lyrics:
Old bones inside an old raincoat
Old bones inside of old shoes
Old friends at the hotel
Come by to wish me well
And keep me up to date on all the old news
Sometimes I have an old whiskey
And I fall asleep in my chair
And I dream that I'm a man
Much younger than I am
I bet you'd think by now that I wouldn't care
But I love life, I'd like to do it again
Though I might not be much more than I've ever been
Just to have the chance to turn back the hands
And let my life begin
Oh yeah, I'd like to do it again
It's time for takin' it easy
It's time for takin' it slow
Old bones don't move so fast
As they did once in the past
Now if I have to run, I simply don't go
But I love life, I'd like to live it again
Though I might not be much more than I've ever been
Just to have the chance to turn back the hands
And let my life begin
Oh yeah, I'd like to do it again

1 comment:

Cuidado said...

She has a BIG grin in every picture. You can't get better than that!