September 9, 2011

Puff-paint sweatshirt memories

Memories have a mind of their own. Especially when they return to you. For me, random scenes from life occasionally comes to mind, often triggered by a smell or a touch or a feeling.

Sunday was a beautiful breezy day. The morning felt cool and I could just taste autumn in the air. Every day this week, the mornings have been cool and pleasant. There is even talk of an actual "cold front" coming in by next weekend. Cold fronts don't ever come in September here.

Anytime the weather makes the shift from summer to autumn, my heart begins to ache. I start thinking of her and remembering things. Mom. Things like what her laugh sounded like. Her laugh was a melody in and of itself. It was like a song that was so beautiful you wanted to make her keep laughing so you could listen to it for always.

Last Sunday I had the memory of her creating these silly sweatshirts. The kind where she ironed on fall leaves cut out from fabric and outlined them with puff-paint. Of course I would never wear them, because I was thirteen and much "too cool" for such things. Those kinds of sweatshirts are a sure sign of the '90's, and well then, that was just my mom too. She was crafty and creative and artsy and she loved to create and make things. I know well the satisfaction of creating something by hand and admiring my work. I got it from her.

It's funny how thinking about an ugly puff-painted sweatshirt can draw so many tears. I have stopped thinking my tears are foolish about such things. But it always amazes me how something like that can reach so far into me and make me miss her so.

It seems as always with the changing of seasons, the wind blows in new memories of her and new places to grieve. Perhaps I remember her the best and think of her the most this time of year because this was when she would just shine the most. The holidays, the cooler weather, her birthday - she felt so full of life this time of year. Maybe we even felt closer then and maybe that's just me wishing that we were closer. Wishing that I had more memories of us together rather than just memories of who she was and how I observed her. And regardless of the lack of memories I have of us sharing these special mom and daughter moments that really just don't exist, I can still taste her vibrancy and just how she could light up a room.

I wrote the other day about how this was one of the places I've been avoiding feeling. I am so resistant to grief. As much as I do cry, I am so resistant to shed tears. So much of me avoids wanting to hurt and feel pain and I sometimes hate that I still have so much pain over a mother I never really had, and a had mother who has been dead for nearly twelve years. So much of me feels desperate to have others understand my heart here, and yet for some reason, God has let this piece of my heart be a sacred place where He has allowed a select few to walk there with me bravely. Those women know who they are.

Recently, God brought a new woman in to my life to walk these places with me. A woman that used to know her and call her friend. This new relationship still blows my mind. And her husband, who also knew both of my parents, has been pursuing my husband. Only God could orchestrate something that amazingly awesome. It has literally put me in my knees in awe and thanks at God's goodness and just how into the details of our lives that He is.

This morning I was gifted with the opportunity to cry. I sat across from this woman today who knew her and remembered her. She let me cry and she cried with me. She held my hand and let me remember. She sat with me in my tears and cried the messy ones with me - like how it still hurts like hell to not have her here to know my son. To hold him and read him books and just be his Grandma. She called me things like darling and precious and special and just motherly words that my daughter-heart needs to hear sometimes.

Honestly, I don't know if I feel any "better." But I'm feeling. I'm feeling her absence and my missing her and my pain over not having my mom. It's a hard and good place to be.
This is my most favorite picture of my mom. This is the mom I will always remember. This is the creator of puff-paint sweatshirts and the laugher of melodic laughs. This is the mom I miss and cry over on quiet September Fridays.


  1. You just never know what someone is going to remember about you. True how certain thoughts or smells or times of the year fill us with a longing in our hearts . More so than other times. Even though I've had a mom through the years I often feel a longing for days gone by and how I felt during happy secure times. Maybe it's a need we have to really belong and feel home. Glad you were able to really feel today and heard some nurturing comforting words....

  2. I am reminded deeply of your mother here, too. I wish I still had the Valentine's Day T-shirt dress we made together. I was still young enough to think it was "cool". She invited me to be a girl in places I didn't have a chance to grow with my own mom. Sitting in the quiet September rememberance with you...