My schizophrenic tendencies overwhelmed me today. I found myself sitting over Twitter trying to recover from the shock of reading analytics about the American Health Care Act and the impact it would have on millions of Americans. As my coffee cooled, I realized that I couldn’t complain about Congressional callousness (See myyearwithoutcomplaining.com) but any decent human being would rise and do so. I started cogitating about how I can write about the potential devastation which could result from the legislation for my political blog (See myeyesarewatchingyou.com) and suddenly lurched from chair thinking, Oh my gosh! The Musings!
It’s Saturday morning. These are the Musings of a Missouri Mugwump, delayed a few hours due to the nauseating effects of reading the news.
So: It’s May. The merriest month.
I’ve been thinking a lot about my mother. I’ve imagined her skipping across her front yard in one of her wrap-around skirts. I have a photo of her doing just that. A friend printed it decades ago in a photo lab where she worked at the time. It’s in sepia tone and but for the twentieth century Midwestern vibe, it has a certain timelessness that could put it anywhere, any year.
Somebody’s mother; anybody’s mother.
My mother always wore a slightly puzzled expression. Her lips with their faded Revlon lipstick could smile beneath eyes that questioned whether another step forward could land her on hazardous footing. My most vivid memories of her involve hospital rooms: My grandmother lying motionless; my father with his hospital gown twisted and sweaty; me, trussed in a harness protecting my shattered leg; and finally my mother herself, telling me not to scold the nurses. But mom —- She shook her head.
Even cancer is no excuse for rudeness, Mary, she said, with a quiet grace that I have never captured.
Even urine leaking from the site of your catheter, Mama? Even that.
Even a botched surgery that delayed your radiation and will doubtless hasten your death? That too.
Even a twenty-one year old girl in starched whites suggesting that my mother doesn’t talk to her husband the way she should?
Especially that, my dear; she has no idea what Daddy and I have experienced. She sees only that he’s my husband and she thinks I should defer to him. Let it be.
Believe me when I say that these conversations occurred between my mother and myself in the mad year between diagnosis and dying.
It has been 32 years since my mother died, from which you can deduce that I was just shy of 30 at her funeral. As Mother’s Day draws closer, I look for her in the delicate irises blooming in my yard. I see her face in the mirror; I grow more like her every day. I would skip down the driveway if I could, but I celebrated her by spending three hours yesterday assisting Trish and Mary Beth as they restored my yard to something like respectability. My mother would so love the hostas. She would approve of the cedar mulch with which we surrounded them. She would have been on her knees weeding alongside my friend Trish and her sister.
After the ladies left, I sat in a rocker on the porch thinking about my mother and her lovely garden. In the fall of 1984, I walked with her in the backyard. I steadied a gardening stool so she could sit and prune one of her flowering bushes. We stood together, enjoying the light breeze of early evening. She seemed at peace. Though the next year would ravage her body, in that moment, she seemed completely at home and complacent.
Peace; comfort; complacency: Three conditions of my mother’s heart to which I aspire.
The Google Fiber guy just called. He’s due in 30 minutes. A pile of dishes glares at me from the kitchen sink and the accusatory emanations of the laundry accumulated in my walk-in closet wash over me in waves. And yes: By and by, I’ll be violating my pledge not to complain as I write that blog entry about the treachery of the Congressional Republicans.
But just now, I’m going to pour another cup of coffee and go out onto the porch, where my mother’s spirit lingers on the morning air.