Friday, March 17, 2017

Sadness and Tears

It’s impossible to accept that it's been 17 years since my mom died. I still remember everything about that day, as if it were only yesterday. We had a major cleaning day at our house. We even had someone come in and clean the carpets. Trace was working a little later and mama was going on a date to the movies. She called and asked if I wanted to go with them, but I thought that might be a little weird.

Next thing I know, Trace is getting a call to meet Randall. He gets calls all the time to go to work during the night, so I just turned over and went back to sleep. Only to be awakened just a short time later. Trace had trouble finding the words. I’m sure that might have been the hardest thing he’s ever had to do. I think I was just in shock. What? What are you saying?

Seems like Jenny materialized out of nowhere. One minute I was in a fog and the next I was sobbing on her shoulder. People came and went that night. I don’t even remember who most of them were. The next few days passed in a blur. We were all so young and had no idea what to do. I was so very young. No clue how to move forward. I was at a new job, not many friends there yet. My day-to-day support system had recently been ripped away. I was utterly lost.

It was one of the most difficult times of my life. I was disoriented with a feeling of being misplaced somehow. Dripping with guilt and slogging through regret. My mom and I always had a very difficult relationship. That’s not to say we didn’t love each other; because, come on, she was still my mom and I her daughter. We just didn’t see eye to eye on most everything. If I said orange, she insisted coral. I’m guessing we butted heads so much because we were a lot a like. For months I really didn't live, I just existed. Never really sure if I was coming or going. I was more than lost somehow, more absent, adrift, wandering, invisible, vanished from my own being.

It took me years to get over the guilt of our relationship. I felt so bad for not spending more time with her. Always being so contrary. Blaming her for everything. Being mad that I never got to apologize for my attitude. Tell her how much I appreciated everything she did for me. Tell her what an awesome Mimi she was. To say I love you.

Even though we didn’t have that typical best friends, one-call-a-day, shopping buddy mother-daughter relationship, my mom influenced my life more than I ever realized. Granted, it took a long time to see it; but nevertheless, I am my mother’s daughter. Don’t misunderstand me; my mom was a great person with a kind and giving heart. We just had trouble relating to one another for whatever reason.

She taught me all about random acts of kindness, even when the person had no idea who had helped them out. She taught me to do the right thing, even if no one was looking. She taught me to love the students, no matter how difficult they were… she would always say, “You never know what their story is, so be kind. It may be the only kindness the child will ever know.” She instilled a wide streak of Brannen through me! She taught me to make my own decisions. She made sure I could think for myself. She showed me that relying on a best friend could be one of the most valuable relationships in life. Although things didn’t work out with her and my dad, she taught me so much about love and marriage. The kind of wife and mother I wanted to be, along with things I wanted to steer clear of… She taught me to say yes ma’am, thank you and please. She taught me to respect my elders and what would happen when I didn’t. She introduced me to the art of breaking a limb for sass talking. She taught me the pleasure of eating dessert before a meal. She gave me her love of books and reading.

She was ashamed of some of the things I said and did when I lost my first teaching job. She told me to dry my tears, that she didn’t raise me to be a quitter or a whiner. She said that you can’t worry about what is right and wrong now, you have to deal with what is. She told me that I had to decide if I was going to let it break me or was I going to make myself into the person I wanted to be. She said she knew I was a good teacher and I had to believe it too. Adding, doing a job and believing in how well you do a job are very different things. It was so hard to hear and I was so angry that she wasn’t just as outraged as I was. But, of course, she was right. I picked myself up (well, actually, Trace dragged me up) and got another job. Now, I read for a living. Say what? I hope she is proud of my life, my choices, my family and me. I lean on 3 John 1:4 – “I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth.” It fills me with hopefulness that she is thrilled that my journey did not end, but only took a different path. A path that has led me to a wonderful life. A life swollen with faith, love, happiness and pure joy.

She didn’t tell me very often that she loved me. The words were hard for her to say for some reason, but she did show me. She loved my husband and was so happy the day of our wedding. She told me all the time God had blessed me with a good man. She adored my child. Spending time with him every single day. She slipped me money when I was in need. Things appeared at my house and when I asked where they came from, she would just say she thought I might like it, so she grabbed it for me. She would loan me money and never let me pay her back, just saying “You can get it to me later.”

Unlike a lot of people, I don’t think of her as being an angel watching down upon me. I see my Mama as a daughter of the One True King. Being a daughter of the King is so much more important. I do know I will see her again and will be able to finally ask her to forgive me and tell her she was right! And that I’m so very sorry.

I miss her everyday. I mourn the “what could have beens”. I continue to learn from her. Being a mother myself, I want my kid to know I love him. I know the importance of him hearing the words. I’m not sure he truly remembers his Mini, but I’m thankful for all the pictures that he sees around our house. He knows who she is and that she loved him to pieces.

For most people, especially in this area, March 17th is a celebration of Irish culture with food, friends and drink. For me, it’s a day of sadness and tears. A day to look back at what I didn’t see then. A day to mourn the “what could have beens”. A day of regrets. A day to remember. A day to take stock of my blessings and prioritize things in my life. A day to spend living a life that would make my mom proud. A day to show those I love that I am me thanks, in part, to her. A day to celebrate the life of the one I called Mama.

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