I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The Stars about my Head I felt
About my feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch -
This gave me that precarious Gait
Some call Experience.

Emily Dickinson, c. 1864

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Remembering family

Mama is next to my brother Buz in the red shirt
I have no idea how long ago this picture was taken, but it must have been a Thanksgiving gathering in Texas during the 1980s. The little girl in the front on the left, Megan, is now a mother of two herself, and Trish, the other little girl in the front, is in her mid-thirties. My mother is responsible for all the people in this picture, one way or another. The only two related to her by marriage are Bob and Stewart, top row next to me. I don't have even one white hair. PJ, next to Mama on the right, died more than a year ago. That's Norma Jean in the front row next to Trish. My two youngest sisters, Fia (blond) and Markee (next to my brother Buz) round out the bunch. My family. Daddy was already gone, and Norma Jean's husband Pete probably took the picture.

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.

17 comments:

troutbirder said...

DJ You are a very very special person and have given me insight and inspiration to me in many ways. The loss of my eldest son and now my spouse who memory is slipping away just like my moms did...

Linda Reeder said...

Thank you for another Sunday morning message of inspiration and contemplation. I'll start my day now, knowing how fortunate I am, and happy that you are feeling blessed too.

gigihawaii said...

After what you went through, you deserve to be happy and I am glad you are, DJan.
Happy Mother's Day!

Far Side of Fifty said...

Happy Mother's Day! Sending you a hug on this day. You are a very wise woman going forward joyfully and bringing that joy to many others:)

Tabor said...

Happy Mother's Day and glad for your spirit!

Rian said...

Happy Mother's Day, DJan!

Elephant's Child said...

Thank you. Gratitude is a gift which keeps on giving...

Gigi said...

What a beautiful post. Happy Mother's Day, DJan. You are so inspiring. Have a wonderful week, my friend.

Arkansas Patti said...

What a great reminder to us all to be grateful for our families and to be sure and let them know they are appreciated.
Today is a day for sweet memories.

Red said...

Mothers are the family rock that ties us together so it's a good day to remember all that our Mom's have done for us. You have the right attitude to pick up your life and move on. It's not easy. You also make friends and get out with people which is a very healthy activity.

Glenda C. Beall said...

DJan, I never had a child, but I think losing a child must be one of the most horrible things to face. Losing my mother and my husband caused me deep grief and then losing my brothers and father compounded my sadness. Mother's day once saddened me so much I stayed home and didn't talk to people feeling somehow I was not worthy since I was not a mother. But now I have a better understanding of who I am. My purpose was not to birth and rear children although I have played a large part in the lives of children. Like you, I find more to do with my life and know I am not a lesser being because I don't have children. I am happy for those who have kids and love having kids, but I know mothers who don't even speak to their grown children. Motherhood is not the end all and be all of life.

Rita said...

Your children were a blessing and a joy...no matter how long they were here. Same as our parents and lovers...no matter how long they live. If we are so fortunate to live so long...we do lose some people we love. But then we knew every bit of them...all their days were within ours...and we didn't leave them. But we are all destined to leave people one day and become memories that fade over the endless march of time. Life is a precious mystery.

John's Island said...

Hi DJan, The thing I like best about Eye on the Edge is your positive attitude. I find it very admirable that you are able to write such a positive post about Mother’s Day when you have lost your own children. I like Glenda’s comment. I would say she has a wonderful perspective on things like you do. Thank you for posting … I look forward to Eye on the Edge. Wishing you a fine week ahead. PS Thanks for your kind comment on my blog … Yes, all is well, I’m slowing down blogging for a while … not stopping but just slowing down for a while. : - )

Weekend-Windup said...

I like to look at the photos taken. It gives us a sweet memories of the past.




Marty Damon said...

Here it is Thursday and I'm late to the party, but I have to tell you that I found so much wisdom in this post.
Life is good for me right now, and I'm not burdened with as many ghosts as others, but some of my own dark thoughts were lightened by your words.

Retired English Teacher said...

I'm just now reading this. Your inspirational message is one that continues to build me up and keep me going. I am blessed to know you.

Deb Shucka said...

"the grief over losing them no longer troubles me" These words are so powerful. You've said here what I feel about my own losses, the ones that make Mothers Day such a bittersweet time. Thank you for your wisdom and your example. Sending you love.