My favorite way to remember momma is to let my mind sort of fly over the memories. Occasionally I’ll dive down to a particular moment and examine it more closely. The further I go back, the clearest parts of those memories are her hands.
I see her smoking a Winston. Ironing clothes. Tapping the steering wheel. Dropping the needle on a record. That brings up memories of her singing (the wrong) lyrics to Jimmy Buffet, John Denver, and Ala-freakin-bama. Then I’ll drift away from those memories and turn to some that aren’t as hazy.
I see her with my babies. When I come close, I see her bathe baby Drew after he had baptized himself in the green icing of his first birthday cake. I see her prop my pink-clad, bald baby Abby against the wall, willing her to take first steps. Why do these memories hurt the most? Is it because I grieve for my kids, too? Either way I can’t sift through these for long, so I zoom ahead to last summer.
I see her with me and Brandy and Abby plus most of the Bonus Family. We’re sitting on the dock scream-singing about Independence along with Martina McBride. Now that’s a memory I can smile about. This is my favorite place to end the flight.
It’s hard not to let my mind take off and revisit the hard stuff that began right after that fun weekend. But today is the 1 year anniversary of her death so I’m up early for a red eye.
I make some quick stops at the week she started getting sick. She stayed with me and she kept calling me Sheila. She sat in a chair chomping ice and listening to her audio book while I worked. When I put her to bed the first night – literally tucking her in as the dementia (or whatever was taking her mind) had turned her into a child – I discovered the CD player was empty. What had she been doing all day?
I move on quickly to September in the memory care facility when she was so happy to have a Coke and Twizzlers. I back track to her dancing with the IV pole in the hospital and wonder anew that those song lyrics were still in her head. She didn’t know her daughters but remembered Mountain Music. I quickly rush through to the final stop. Those last weeks in the hospital with Brandy. There is turbulence.
This is the part where I start over. I climb way up and let the memories peel away underneath me until I find something bright to inspect. It’ll probably be her hands.