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.

The Mug:

But as I reached up to grab a mug 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 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.

The Coat:

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 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 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.

The Pillowcase:

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 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.


Chrysalis Angel said...


SeaSpray said...

Thank you Angel.

{{{Hugs back}}}


passionstamper said...

After half a lifetime of memories with a person, you can hardly expect that in only seven months after the loss of a loved one, you will be over such a loss.

Although I haven't experienced the loss of a parent yet, I don't think one ever gets over it, or used to it, but one just learns to go on living. For the rest of your life, you will always be reminded of your mom, for you are so blessed to have little reminders of her in everyday things such as mugs and a coat, and yes, even the pillow case-because it was a gift of LOVE from your mom to you and Mr. Seaspray.

There is no way you can go for a long time without some remembrance of her...because her life was so entwined in yours-even during the salt and pepper moments! She will live on in your heart and in your memory until that day when you are reunited again. So don't be sad about the mug, or the coat-or that the pillowcase broke you..this is God's way of making sure your mom lives on in your life, through the bitter and oh so sweet memories...Thanksgiving and Christmas will especially be challenging, but only in talking about her, and reliving the memories you've shared will she be able to be a part of it all. Just as we relive those memories of our children with each handmade ornament they made when we place it on our trees, you will do the same with all the wonderful holidays you were able to spend together with your mom. And where she is now, I believe she will know she is very much alive in your heart, and your life.

We're here for you too, Spray. Love ya! Hugs here too, to you!

Rositta said...

Sometimes I think I hear my Mom's voice still. I also have not thrown out all her clothes and it's been 2 1/2 years...where does the time go. Christmas is particularly bad since it was her favourite season. You will miss your Mom always, there is no getting around that. Only with time when you think of her you will smile instead of cry. At least that's what has happened to me...ciao

SeaSpray said...

Dear Pstamper - Thank you so much for that beautiful comment and as I told you I am saving it, tucking it away in something. Thank you. :)

SeaSpray said...

Rositta you always respond so sweetly and I know you understand because you have been and are going through it... and I am sorry. Your words have helped me through these things and so thank you too.

I told my husband and son not to throw the bag out that it's too soon. I regtret I threw all her glasses out.

When I hurt like this I can be like Pharoah on how he banished the name of Moses and removed the name from everywhere. i do that in a swift reaction and get everything out of my sight. I did it with our dog too.

It hurts so much that I guess I feel ..remove every reminder so I don't have to think about it. But I realize that isn't the best thing to do either.

I found her new purse with contents in it and it was bittersweet going through it.

See..the problem for me is that I regret so much that I missed things last summer and even that year. I missed them.

Like in that purse ..was a long grocery store receipt..the last time I took her shopping.

I read through it and realized their were only 2 cans of tuna representing protein and 8 things of pudding, canned vegetables and light bulbs. I had just assumed that she had things in her freezer..but when I cleaned it out..that stuff was so old. So..was she not eating properly. She had good labs, etc.

So..I wonder if she was malnourished and did that exacerbate all the other stuff?

I really cannot believe I missed so many things.

I have to let go.

I know NOW how she kept her feelings to herself. She was very private and argumentative if I "pried into her personal business" as she would say.

But..Knowing what I know now..I could've found a way around it.

But life..doesn't give us the hindsight vision until we've done it.

SeaSpray said...

Pstamper...I just have to find a way to let this all go and focus on the people the blessings that are in front of me right now.

It will be nice to not cry anymore. I think I cry in my sleep cause yesterday when I sat tear fell down my cheek and sometimes i am all puffy ..beyond normal morning puffy.

I won't even drive near her road anymore. Can't stand to.

passionstamper said...

Seaspray, I think focusing on the people and blessings God is currently providing is exactly what you need to do...and isn't that what Thanksgiving is all about? Being grateful to God for all we do have, and being mindful of those around us who love us and need us? You have a wonderful network of caring and loving family and friends who understand this is a very painful time for you and respect the grieving process any loss requires, which is unique for every individual. Those who love you will continue to gently nudge you in that direction and will be there waiting with open arms when you are ready to move forward. Only you can decide when it's time to resume your normal life again, That being said, I don't believe your mom would want you to be paralyzed by regrets that keep you from living your life, or caring for yourself or your family. No one is perfect, we all make mistakes. Your mom made mistakes too, but you still loved her and forgave her. You are one of the most caring people I know, so don't devalue yourself with regrets that cannot be changed. If it's regrets that are holding you back and you can't forgive yourself, God is waiting to heal your heart with a free gift-His divine forgiveness and mercy and comfort, and it's yours for the asking, whenever you are ready. No one can or will ever take away your memories, and I agree with Rositta who so eloquently stated, "you will miss your Mom always, there is no getting around that. Only with time when you think of her you will smile instead of cry."

SeaSpray said...

Well said Deb ..thanks. :)

Chrysalis Angel said...

i love debbie's insightfulness. she has a true gift of empathy and compassion - God given.
i know when i was having a hard time, she had the perfect words for me. i will always be grateful to her for that. not everyone understands these things.
i agree with her.
i apologize for all lower case but am having some issues in typing this out to you. just wanted to let debbie know how fortunate we are to have her in our lives too. as many of us will mourn for lost loves this holdiay season, may we be careful to remember and cherish the ones that are right there with us, and let them know-they are loved as well.

SeaSpray said...

Hi Angel - I'm very blessed to have Debbie in my life. My husband met them 1st in 1986, told me about this nice couple & I was in working mode *big time* and so didn't meet them until summer of 88 at a neighborhood party and we were both pregnant with our sons.our boys were born 2 days apart. Deb worked full time days and I worked at hospital even shift and weekends and so we had totally opposite schedules. Once we had the babies though we connected permanently. :)

She's a good listener and has words of wisdom when needed, is completely trustworthy with secrets, accepts me faults and all and has a fabulous sense of humor. :)

I'm glad she has been a blessing to you. She never mentioned anything about your conversations and so I am still in the dark about what happened... but I think it's wonderful that blogging has led to some nice, quality friendships. :)

Did I mention we talk hours on the phone too? LOL! And we live in the same neighborhood not long distance. :)

SeaSpray said...

P.S. you're apologizing for lower case to me? LOL! You are always good with typing/punctuation, etc.

Chrysalis Angel said...

ha, hardly. if the grammar police had their way, i'd be banished. i'm really laughing here. you are sweet as can be, seaspray.

SeaSpray said...


StorytellERdoc said...


I am just catching up on some of your posts and am enjoying them all. This one was especially amazing and heartfelt...well-written and well-done!

SeaSpray said...

Awww StorytellERdoc... coming from you ..that means a lot. You are such a terrific writer. I feel like I am reading a chapter in a book every time I read one of your posts.

You made my day. Thank you! :)