I treasure this picture of my mom. I think I’ve posted it before. She is about 19 or 20 years of age. It was taken before she and my dad were married. Her brown hair long, in a smart wave. Her smile sweet. Those soft, blue folds of her coat quite stylish. My mom looks so young and carefree and reminds me so much of my own daughters, each bearing resemblances to her in different ways, not to mention myself.
It is the tilt of her head that has captivated me today. I have a few pictures of Jennifer and I at the Jackie Kennedy Tea we attended a few weeks ago. We are both tilting our heads in the same way in our photos; it is exactly the same way Ma is tilting hers here. Amazing, isn’t it, the way such family traits appear? I like to think of them as little gifts in life that arrive unawares.
My mom passed away 25 years ago. She died on the Ides of March. I miss her in the ways we all miss those we love and no longer have with us on this earth, though I always feel her near. When she died, I was right next to her. She took in her last breath, her head turned toward me, and I felt as if I caught her spirit.
I’ve been having dreams lately of family members, all now “gone home”/ In each of them, so real, my mother never appears. They are a comfort, these dreams; I never fear them as some might. My sister’s surgery is in part what is bringing them on, I’m sure. My sister, you see, was spared the very same thing my mom died from 25 years ago. Gifts. I tell you, dear reader, they keep coming in life if we just take the time to receive them.
Since Ma was appearing in my dreams and her anniversary was nigh, I took a ride to the cemetery to say hello on Thursday, the 14th. I didn’t stay long. It was bitterly cold, the cemetery was empty, and I was deep into its interior. I did say a prayer and smiled at the memories that are good of my life, and home I came, knowing some of our dreams happen while our eyes are open.
Would you mind if I shared a portion of a poem I wrote for a writing class I took some years after Ma died? It is called “On the Wings of Her Angel”
I watched her warm essence wax
and wane until it flew on
the wings of her angel –
I breathed in her spirit and caught it
on it’s upward flight.
In my mother’s room:
threads of death in her veins,
I felt the gossamer web of her presence
and gathered her strength. It freed me
to love and mourn her –
sewing and darning and mending,
a time-worn pattern of love,
to hold for my daughters-
a blanket of all that is good and fair.
I look to her soul as I wander
this dark hall of grief,
down the corridors
of my longing and loss,
remembering her breath
as it fluttered home to me
from the wings of her angel.