|Mama is next to my brother Buz in the red shirt|
My family, the way we were then. We would gather in Texas every few years. After Daddy died in 1979, I tried to make it back to Texas to see my mother at least once a year, and Thanksgiving was a good time for it to happen. We had scattered to many parts of the country, and it was always a wonderful thing to see everybody once again. Three siblings still remained in Texas, which is why we gathered there. These days I follow Megan, Trish, Fia and Buz on Facebook, and it's great to be able to see what's going on in their lives. Markee and Norma Jean are also registered on FB but they don't use it. I find it invaluable to keep tabs on those I don't see in person any more, but it's not everybody's cup of tea. Just for grins, I think I'll post this picture on there today for Mother's Day.
Photographs are moments captured in time, and going back through old pictures makes me realize how much I've forgotten of those days. I guess that's normal, but it gives me a little twinge, knowing that we will never again all be together, and that now all I've got left of some of them is this picture and my memories, scanty as they are. Once I'm gone, only the picture will remain, and since I never label them, before long this picture will end up being discarded. And why not? It's just an old image of a moment in the late twentieth century, now gone too. Emily Dickinson once said, "Forever is composed of nows." That's the only forever we have.
Mama was proud of her children, all of them, and I was the first born of her six living children. She also had another girl she carried for seven months, born prematurely and who didn't live more than a few hours. So it was seven times she went through the birth process and nurtured the rest of us into adulthood. I left to get married when I was only eighteen (and accidentally pregnant) but as the years went by, the only place I ever called "home" was where my mother was. She gave me life, and she continued to be the center, the rock that we all clung to when times were tough. It was hard to lose her, but as I've said before, she still visits me in my dreams now and then. I remember when she comforted me when I was sick, and if I really concentrate, I think I can feel her soothing hand stroking my hair.
I don't have any living children to call me mom today, but I also went through the birth process and loved and cherished my babies when they were small. My friend Judy called me up yesterday and lamented the fact that I didn't have anybody to help me celebrate Mother's Day, although I certainly am one. I told her not to worry, I feel very blessed to have had them for as long as I did, and the grief over losing them no longer troubles me. Missing our loved ones is natural, and as our lives heal over the pain recedes, it really does. I suppose if I were so inclined, I could feel really sorry for myself, but I don't think I'd be nearly as happy as I am by moving on.
I've got plenty to be thankful for, and having the wonderful family I have is one blessing I will never take for granted. I call my sister Norma Jean every other week and we catch up with each other. I see the children of several of my siblings (and their children) on Facebook and smile as I see how quickly they are growing up and starting independent lives of their own. I have my own partner to share my life with, along with a very important circle of friends and acquaintances, and there is no lack in my world. I am always mindful to give thanks for what is and not yearn for what is not. What would be the point? The only person who would suffer would be me. I choose laughter and joy instead. And memories. I've got plenty of them to enjoy.
I am thinking of my own mother and how proud she would be of all her offspring, generations of them now. She lived long enough to have a chance to see us all launched into the world. When she was alive, I would call her and we'd discuss them and I would learn what she hoped for each one of us. As I think back, much of what she hoped for not only came true, but surpassed her wildest dreams. Not one of us is monetarily wealthy, but she taught me that the relationships we nurture and cherish are the more important wealth. That the love that surrounds us, if we just allow ourselves to feel it, is way more conducive to happiness than any material things.
Well, here it is again, the time to begin the rest of my Sunday. Mother's Day in Bellingham has brought me many things: blue sunny skies, a gentle breeze, a garden waiting for my ministrations, spending time together with Smart Guy, and the joy of my virtual world of friends. I've also got a good book to read, a series on Netflix that I'm enjoying (Foyle's War), great internet connectivity, and a refrigerator full of good food, thanks to my partner. I hope that you, my gentle reader, will have at least half of these good things yourself. And if you have children and grandchildren to celebrate this wonderful day with, I'm really glad for you and look forward to you sharing them with me. This particular "now" feels pretty darn good to me.