2am - boy with asthma coughing and coughing and coughing downstairs; little girl with a new bump on her head and a fat lip--from falling last night--grateful her teeth didn't go through her lip--crying and crying. Two reasons to be awake, but why won't the sleep return?
Now - the coughing and crying have stopped, but this feeling nags at my heart. I can't sleep. Why am I feeling so awful?
I scan my mind for reasons. I can find a few. Oh yes, I can ALWAYS find a few (I keep a good amount of good ol' mother's guilt stored up for occasions such as these)--Are we making the right decisions for our kids? Am I spending enough quality time with them? Is their homework done?
I turn over and then it occurs to me. Today, March 17th was the day. The day my mom died. (While everyone else is wearing green, I have to admit, I'm much more blue).
That so totally explains the feeling. Once I make that realization, it subsides.
I've told you about her before. Lots and lots of times. But I have to be honest, I don't write about her for anybody but my kids. I'm sad they don't know her, and I'm sad she doesn't know them.
This morning, I want to paint a picture for my kids...
*She wore curlers....Sometimes even to the grocery store.
*My mom had a cute laugh. Kind of a giggle. She also had a high voice--not super high, but the just-right-for-a-cute-mom voice.
*My mom sang soprano when I heard her sing hymns sitting next to her at church, but to be honest, she should have been an alto. Some of those notes were just a bit too high for her.
*My mom was the perfect hugging height for me. She was 5'2" to my 5'4".
*She had little feet (size 6 1/2) and little hands but always long nails.
*She was low-maintenance. She was easy, breezy and oh, so easy to love.
*My mom learned how to drive when she was 40 and had four kids. How'd she get around before that?
*My mom LOVED my dad--deeply and enduringly. There was no doubt.
*She wasn't much of a home decorator. That kind of stuff just wasn't important to her. How things appeared just weren't her thing. She was a heart person, not a face person.
*My mom loved her family. She would do anything and everything for us. She loved not just us who were before her eyes everyday, but she loved EVERYONE in her family. She searched back generations to know her family and have them be part of her life.
*My mom was the kind that everybody loved, but she had a few very close friends--Delores, LaReen, Marty, Deonne....
*In the morning, she would have toast with crunchy peanut butter and boysenberry jam and a cup of hot chocolate.
*Steak and liver and onions were foods only for grown ups. Kids got mac and cheese or frozen pizza on those nights.
*Sunday always had a special meal--fried chicken and mashed potatoes and the most amazing gravy EVER, roast beef and carrots and potatoes, ham, or roast pork.
*My mom stayed home with us kids until we were all in school then she took a job with Pakula--a jewelry company. She traveled around and took care of the jewelry inventory for stores in the Portland metropolitan area--Troutdale, Gresham, Beaverton, Tualatin....She chose where she went and when and was always back before we got home from school.
*My mom served in the Primary at church for years and years. She was the perfect "kid kind of person" with her sparkly eyes and endless smile. She also served as Relief Society president, counselor and secretery. She was secretery over and over again. She was very good at it. She would sit in sacrament meeting with a piece of paper and a pen in hand and would jot down who was there. Not in a stalker-ish way, but in a "hey, I really care about these people" kind of way.
*She spent hours finding just the right sticker or picture to go on the ward Relief Society newsletter--"The Nutshell." I believe she may even be the one who came up with the name. She'd type it up on her typewriter and leave gaps where she wanted a "graphic" to go. She learned that if she used Scotch tape around the edges, the edges wouldn't show when she would photocopy it. She wanted it to be flawless.
*She suffered from hay fever every year. She said it would suddenly end, every year, on the 4th of July.
*My mom didn't sweat the small stuff.
*I don't remember my mom sitting down to read the scriptures. My dad did, but I don't recall that of her, but if someone needed a meal, she was there. If someone needed a ride, she was their girl. She was a doer.
*I remember her taking us to Primary in the middle of the week and we would pick up kids from other families week after week. My brother said that the kids lived in "Marlene Ghetto." It wasn't a very nice neighborhood, but we'd go every single week to get those kids and take them to Primary.
*My mom was NEVER sick.
*My mom made things like "shipwreck" and tuna noodle casserole and spaghetti and tacos for us kids to eat.
*My mom's purse was kept on top of the fridge.
*My mom was a lip kisser.
*My mom had wadded up tissues, a comb and a tiny mirror in a little rubber-ish case in her purse. I remember her handing me a tissue and having to ask whether it was used or not. It was always a new tissue; it had just been in there getting tossed around.
*She always wore lipstick but that was all as far as makeup went.
*She got mad at me when I poured the entire bottle of baby oil down the sink in the bathroom when I was four. I thought it was water, and I had refilled it, so I didn't understand the hubbub.
*My mom believed that children needed to have pets, so we always had one or two cats and a dog.
*When I was about 3 or 4, my mom was going to pick up a babysitter (Susie Larsen--my favorite--who'd take us out to the backyard and play mother-may-I and redlight-greenlight with us) for the evening and took a few of us along. She drove onto a nearby street to show us a house that had burned down to teach us about fire safety. I remember being freaked out by the blackness of what remained of the house. She made her point without even having to say anything.
*Most important of all, my mom loved me. There was never any doubt EVER that this was true. She took the time for me.
So, today she'll be on my mind. Just like she is at some point in almost everyday. I'm going to try not to think of this day thirteen years ago. That time of my life proved that I'm stronger than I think I am. That's one of the very few things I'm grateful for for that day.
I will spend today being grateful for a wonderful, loving, caring mom, and I'll spend this day working, like I try to do everyday, to become more like her.