Monday, November 16, 2009
The Mug, the Coat and ..the Pillowcase
It was the pillowcase that just broke me.
Last week ...earlier in the week .. I went to get a Longaberger mug out of the closet to use for my morning coffee. I've had these mugs for years now and have become an avid collector of Longaberger products ..the baskets, the wrought iron and the pottery.
When I see the pottery... I feel happy every time. I love the weight and feel of the coffee mugs, the thick rounded lip at the top and the solid rounded bottom in my hand. The mugs feel so good to hold ..warm, cozy and pleasing. I always look forward to using them.
But as I reached up to grab a mug ...my eyes fell on another mug... one that doesn't belong to any set. It's also pottery and arty looking with the pretty design. My heart felt so sad .. in an instant. No tears.. just very sad and I chose to ignore it and closed the cabinet door.
Last summer, we were all at my m-i-l's ..sitting in the kitchen and about to have some coffee, when my mother blurted out.. harshly that she had asked me for another mug because the Longerberger mugs I gave her were to heavy, but I never got it for her. I reacted..snappily and said she did not ask for a mug or I would've gotten her one and she said "Oh YES I did!" I let it drop ... but I was annoyed.
I was clueless at the time that she was experiencing some dementia and that she was getting weaker so that even a mug was too heavy. I didn't know. She did tell me at one point that the mug was heavy and maybe that was her way of "asking" for another mug and it just went past me. If that was a request..then it was a miscommunication between both of us..which was par for the coarse with our oil and water personalities. We Loved each other though. And I am beginning to understand how non-communicative she was about things...even simple things.
I am a firm believer that anything can be resolved ..if only people will say what they are really thinking or mean..and if they will listen. Listen and communicate your thoughts/feelings. And forgive. But we never got to that point because everything was glossed over and or misunderstood... and usually ..i just distanced.
But..with hindsight being 20-20... oh my gosh.. there are so many things.. I would've let roll off me and I would ask important questions and just be there. My husband reminds me that it was not her personality to do that and it wasn't easy.
So ..an aunt heard the conversation and gave me a mug to give to Mom .. and this is the mug.
Then when she was in the nursing home... this was the mug I would take to the staff break room and fill with a hot cup of fresh coffee and happily bring it back to her. It felt so good to see how much she loved getting that fresh coffee... even though she could hardly do anything for herself and was no longer independent in any sense of the word. She had lost all ability to read, use a remote or even prop herself up if she fell over. Her eyes would light up, she'd smile and always have an appreciative comment. She loved her coffee.
That is a bittersweet memory.
It pains me to look at the mug. I don't want it in my closet. I tried to give it away and I can't throw it out. I guess I have to pack it ..or I could try harder to give it away.
Friday afternoon ..younger son and I were going through bags that had been in the attic and I was deciding what to keep. I unexpectedly opened a big black bag of her winter clothes.
Seeing them was instantly heart crushing.. much worse than the mug. But then I saw it ...the teal green winter coat that she wore all the time ..even though we had gotten her a nicer winter coat one year for Christmas. When I am in the grocery store ..I can almost see her at the other end of the aisle ... in her teal green coat ..as I round the corner. I still avoid the local grocery stores when I can.. because she is supposed to be there .. shopping ..filling her cart with her usual things... but of course ..she is not. But really.. it's like I can just almost see her..like if I looked a little harder..she would really be there and my eyes just can't see her yet. Seeing that coat was like a searing hot poker to my heart and I said... "Oh NO..Mom's coat!" I put my face into the bag of clothes. The inside of the bag smelled just like her. I wanted to immerse myself into it or go lie down and hug the clothes, but company was coming soon. I picked the coat up and held it close to my chest and tears fell softly down onto the coat.. staining it with my tear drops. I put it back into the bag, tied the bag and tossed it and said to put it out in the shed... but don't throw it out. I couldn't say throw it out because that would be like throwing Mom out.. but they really can ... I just can't say it yet. Today, I did have the idea to let her cat nestle into her clothes and wondered if he'd remember and be happy, sad ..or confused. I think he'd know it was her things though. But I didn't bring it in.
Then just a little while ago as I was changing the sheets ..I picked up a pillowcase and remembered Mom gave that set to us for a Christmas present one year. It's not even one of my favorite sets... although it is pretty. I then proceeded to fit the case onto the pillow and stopped mid way. I froze for a couple of seconds, pulled it back off ..hugged it and sobbed.
The thing is ..the mug has emotional memories... the coat absolutely has emotional memories ... but the pillow case ..nothing. All I remember is that she gave it to us and I couldn't even tell you what Christmas.. and it was the pillowcase that broke me.
Obviously it hurts when you lose a parent. It hurts even more (says me) if the relationship was complicated. She's only been gone 7 months... but after the memorial that was finally held in September.. I managed to keep most thoughts of Mom at bay.
Oh they come in .. but mostly they float around nearby..almost feeling them physically for a few seconds, but I quickly dismiss them before they land and grip my heart all over again. Just last week I was going on about how happy I was with it getting dark early, fall and the holidays coming ..as if she never existed ..I didn't even think about her when I was saying these things.
But while holding the pillowcase (I know it sounds dumb), my thoughts of her came flooding in like a dam had burst and then I remembered Christmas is coming...
No more pillowcases, sheets and presents exchanged, no more ornaments... that I shall cherish more than ever, someone else will sit in her place at the table and no more warnings to stop at the corner because the cars come up fast (She said that for twenty yrs), warnings of snow delivered like every storm would be a blizzard or to wear something on my head or I'll catch a cold and no more warm hugs with that little tickling of my side she always snuck in that would always make me laugh and jump back.
All this because of an inconsequential pillowcase!
I miss my Mom.