By Meghan Dunn Lawrence
This will be my second Christmas without my mother. Strangely enough, I’m ok. I expected holidays and birthdays and other significant dates to be especially difficult now that she is gone. But oddly, those dates come and go and are happy and I don’t think of her that much. Probably because I have my own family and lots of great friends that I spend time with, my life feels fulfilled.
But more likely the reason that I don’t miss her on those days is because I miss her on the inane, monotonous, relatively forgettable days. I don’t miss any presents that she would give me at Christmas, and it’s ok when she isn’t the one putting together Easter baskets. What I miss is being able to call and ask her how many deviled eggs she thinks I should make for my kids’ birthday parties, or if I need to know what to do with a weird squash that someone gave me (Cook it- how? Decorate with it? Throw it away?). I miss her when my kids don’t want to go to the grocery store and would much rather go see her for an hour. I miss being amazed at how many questions she knew on Jeopardy, and how she knew the proper usage for a samovar. I don’t really remember any vacations or shopping trips that we took, but I do remember how good she smelled after she took a bath at night. I remember how we kept trying to see the beginning of the original “Poseidon Adventure” so we could see the ship turn over, but we always turned it on too late. Her laugh could be kind of annoying, but whenever I hear a Bee Gees or ABBA song, I think of her and how much she liked them. I remember how much she loved to cook for everyone and how we had to stay out the kitchen. I could go to her and dad’s house at any time and the kitchen would always be stocked with, at least, cold Coke and Hostess Cupcakes. I remember how proud I was of her when she learned to use a computer and type correctly when she was in her 50’s.
She hasn’t been gone long enough for posterity to adorn her in perfection- to be sure, I also remember that the birthday cakes she would bake were almost always flat and dry, and her wardrobe choices were occasionally cause for embarrassment to her children who were of course much cooler than she.
What stands out in my mind aren’t the grand gestures or publicly witnessed favors. It was my mom who dispatched my brother and they both came to help me when it was time to put my dog to sleep. My mom cooked my husband’s favorite food for him on his birthday because I couldn’t do it as well. My mom came over and helped me clean up a huge mess that a puppy had made. My mom took care of my children every day when I had to go work, even when she was sick. Even when she was so sick that she died that evening.
Those are the kinds of things that I miss. Christmas comes once a year, but there are 364 other days in the year that are more difficult to get through. These days make me consider what my children will remember about me when I’m gone. So I feel a little less guilty when I can’t afford to take them to Disney World. I know that what they’ll appreciate more is that I took the time to read to them, that I remembered to wash a particular shirt, and that I’m genuinely interested and involved in their happiness.