Mom, Shell and me

One of my favorite times of the day is when the family has been fed, the dog has been walked, the washing machine is going and I take ten minutes to sip a cup of green tea, plan my day and sort of re-group. Sometimes this is done by perusing a magazine, which delivers a yoga-like Zen, providing the articles are airy and upbeat. Sure, there are those moments when I come across an article that I wholeheartedly believe could change my life as I am sure if it worked for the woman in the magazine, I too can lose fifteen pounds in fifteen days. I tear out recipes I have every intention of attempting. I make note of advice I must remember to share with my sister, my friend, my children. And then, my teacup is empty and I retreat to my little room in the back of the house to write until the children come bustling back through the door and the routine begins again. It isn’t a bad schedule really. Generally, I feel pretty darn fortunate for the predictable regularity of my life. I like routine.  I like time alone too. And I love tea and that my life includes the opportunity to savor it most mornings. Rarely do I think about what makes me like these things; what made me who I am. Seldom do I note that my mother never liked tea. She actually called it puch water.

While flipping through a magazine the other morning and I came across a picture in an ad that stopped me from turning the page. I cannot tell you what it was promoting – gardening supplies, or comfortable shoes perhaps, but I will tell you that as I began to turn the page disinterested in whatever it was trying to sell me, the woman in the ad struck me. I won’t get all eerie on you and tell you that she spoke to me in some way or that she winked at me, but somehow she looked back at me and an image of my mother; who died over thirty years ago when I was a teenager, was there. Now I have photos of my mother; not many though, because she never liked having her photo taken – big mistake by the way, and I know what she looked like. I have memories too. This marketing model was a reincarnated version of my mother as I have conjured in my mind over the last thirty or so years and she has been following me all week. I know full well that the lady in the garden, or golf course or floating on a cloud for all I recall, is not my mother. Sadly, my mother is still gone. Yet, many years later I have all new questions for her that this glossy stranger has managed to dredge up. I stared at the photo for quite a while and wondered if my mother liked riding bicycles. I remembered she couldn’t swim, but insisted my sister and I learn. I know my mom loved reading, but did she ever write? Can she see how amazing my kids are? I met an old cousin a few years ago that insisted I had your mother’s eyes. Did you ever notice that?  The questions came faster all week. Suddenly I was on the speed train of memorabilia, rather than the more even slow chug of the local.

I believe in symbols. I take comfort in thinking that some things happen for reasons beyond our control. I wonder if that picture came across that day, because I was supposed to see it. Perhaps my mother felt the distance growing a bit too vast and she didn’t want me to ever forget her. Maybe it befell a message that all was fine in her Garden of Eden, and that Dad was there now too and they were happy. Or maybe, no definitely, I am still missing my mom thirty-two and a half years later, because a person never stops needing their mom; they just learn to move on.

In case you are wondering, I did not save the advertisement. I thought about ripping it out many times; even pinning it up so I could see it whenever I wanted. I even considered mailing it to my sister. But, I decided to stick with the memories I have and just be glad I got to visit with her one more time – if only in my mind. I’m still quite sure that it all transpired for a reason though – probably to remind me how lucky I was to have such an awesome mother, if only for a short time and that she is still watching over me.