I often sat with Mom, filling our time with conversations of family news, solving crossword puzzles or playing cards. As her eyesight grew worse I would read to her. Often I would ask her trivia questions, which she was astonishingly good at, or read her letters and emails to her. Other times she would enjoy hearing excerpts from my journaling. I would like to share one with you that was written, but never read aloud.
June 12, 2011
Mom and I entered the restaurant and were immediately greeted by one of the regular waitresses who gingerly escorted us to a large, centrally located booth. We jockeyed ourselves into position, settling in as Mom began enthusiastically recalling a special time in her spirited youth. She lived in a small town then, where every summer would bring the annual corn festival to the local farmers cornfield. She spoke of how she loved to join the town folk as they all gathered, eagerly consuming the deliciously sweet corn they had harvested. Afterwards they would all have a wonderful time dancing well into the night whilst listening to the popular local three-piece band. The excitement from the telling of it all often pushed her volume up a decimal, or three, the glass of wine enhancing her delight. I'm ashamed to say I would squirm a little as her capacity for story telling would increase and the conversation became progressively animated.
That night I could see in my peripheral vision a small table for two tucked away on the opposite side of the restaurant. There sat an elderly gentleman and his companion. He had long straight silver hair protruding from the well- worn baseball cap perched haphazardly on his head. His old washed-out collared shirt only partially tucked into his faded stonewashed jeans. Across from this grandfather figure sat a young woman. She was likely in her early twenties, slender, with shoulder length, mousey brown hair. The pair of them sat there in silence as they waited for their meal. She reading her romance novel, and he the local newspaper. I thought it rather sad that they had nothing at all to talk about.
Once again I turned my full attention to my mother as her thoughts led her to paint another picture for me to preserve for the next generation to pass on. She told of a time when she was a school-aged girl and had just been offered the lead role in a musical play put on by the local drama club called ‘The Wedding of the Painted Dolls’. She was so proud to be considered the top contender for the part. She had a choice to make that summer. She could either do the play and miss out on the family holiday, or join the family on their summer vacation and forego the lead role. I anxiously asked her what her choice had been. To her of course the choice was simple. Family always comes first. I smiled.
Yes…even back then family was the most important thing to her. I quickly glanced over to the couple I had noticed earlier. The older gentleman slowly turned the page of the newspaper, the attention he gave it steadfast. They continued their meal in silence.
Observing those two strangers that day made me realize how much I had to be thankful for. I thank God for the mother I was blessed with, not only for her exceptionally captivating gift of the narrative, but also her gentleness of heart, her strength of spirit, and her totally unwavering faith in God. Whenever I see a family gather I think of her. Whether it be my own family around the dining room table, or a mother duck swimming across a pond, all her little ducklings neatly following in her wake, I will always be reminded of our mother who kept us all safely tucked under her wing, surrounded by her infinite love and devotion. Thank you Mom. I love you and miss you very much. It’s comforting to know that you are at peace now, and that Dad is no longer without his sail.
All my love
Your loving daughter,