Mother’s Day: Remembering Mom . . . and Dad

This morning was going so well.  Soon after letting Annie out for her morning “go”, I decided to try out the new sprinkler on the thirsty front yard.  The spray and puddles soon attracted a variety of birds and even a squirrel that wanted to play in the rhythmic splashes on the sidewalk.

Then into the garage I went to pull a big bag of potting soil out of the hatchback in order to re-pot a monkey’s paw fern that had crashed onto the patio from its precarious perch from a nail not-so-carefully driven into a pergola post.  But the beans that had been soaking overnight for frijoles a la charra were on my mind, so I headed back inside to get them started cooking.   When I returned to the pots, I happily found that the fern could be separated, and I could share part with a friend.  In the front yard, the water continued soaking the dry ground.

With my hands covered with potting soil, I headed out front to turn off the water, only to find that ants had started another hill in the corner of the side flower bed.  Back to the garage I went for the Sevin.

With the ants taken care of, my puttering continued–filling pots, frying pieces of salted pork for the beans, sweeping the front sidewalk of the remaining puddles and twigs from the oak tree.

Enjoying my puttering on this unusually fresh southeast Texas morning.  Moving back and forth task to task until one and then the other was completed.  Even now as I write, it’s back downstairs to check on the nearly ready beans.

Enjoying my house.

Then one of those moments comes over me.  I know it’s Mother’s Day.  This is the second without Mom.  Last year wasn’t like this.

It’s the house.

Driving back from Kansas, a Christmas ago, less than two months after Mom had passed away, I had Annie in the car with me, and all of a sudden, for no obvious reason, I stopped the car, started to bawl, and said to her,  “I’m going to get us a house.”

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My parents spoiled me.  When you’re the last one by a ways, you get spoiled.  I didn’t see it that way so much when it was happening, but they kept it up even after I came back from four years in the military and should have learned to take care of myself.  The house on the farm, and later, the one in town.  Mom. Dad. Home.  Always there for me.   After a weekend or holiday spent with my folks, I almost always cried  after I got into my car and was heading down the road.  (There are some of those N.A.R.T.H.-type psycho-wackos that would say that’s why I’m gay, but if so there’s a helluva lot of spoiled straight people out there too.)

Even after Dad was gone, when I’d spend time with Mom at the house in Abilene, it’d be hard to leave, and later, when she wasn’t able to care for herself, she’d say things to show she still worried and cared about me, like when one of the last times I saw her, she said, “Don’t stop quilting.  You might need that to take care of yourself some day.”  Behind me now set two tables  piled with two sewing machines, fabric, and all  sorts of quilting supplies, not quite ready to start–or finish–a project.  When the things on those tables are organized, most everything in my house will have found its place.

————–

The full realization of why getting this house was so important never really hit me until this morning.

After my mom was gone, I no longer had a home to go back to.  Not that she’d even lived in her own house for the last years of her life.

So many things that I do now remind of my mom and dad.  (I can hardly breathe right now–remembering.)  My dad.  My dad’s blue striped overalls.  When I was a very little kid, I used to hang onto the loop on the side (the one that would hold a hammer) when I went along with him almost every Saturday to the grocery store.  Those beans downstairs.  I learned to cook, and not be afraid to experiment, from watching and helping Mom in the kitchen.  I could still pluck and dress a chicken if I had to.

Not long after I moved in to my house, I “had” to get a wooden bowl for the Christmas nuts, not only the bowl, but add to it the old flat iron that I already had and a hammer to crack the nuts.  A similar set for nut-cracking was what my parents had had for as long as I can remember.  The once kerosene lamp, turned into an electric one by an uncle, which sat forever on the desk in the house on the farm, after being passed around the family for awhile, came to me and now is on my desk in the corner of the living room, not so different from its place back on the farm.

My house has already become more than a nice place to live; because of it, I am able to live in a way that I couldn’t in an apartment.  More than ever, I realize how much of my own self comes from my mom and dad.  Because of them, I pushed myself to buy a house, and I’m sure that they would be happy for me, knowing that I’m “home” again.

(And the beans are done, the cilantro added.  And my first attempt at barbequed ribs on the big-ass grill is happenin’.)

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Remembering Mom

bouquetMy mother passed away the day before Barack Obama was elected to be the next President and gay marriage lost in California.  Three days ago was her birthday.

My mother had lived a good, long life, so because of her age and recent deterioration of health, her passing was not unexpected.  Even so, because of losing her, my reaction to the election, both Obama’s victory and the defeat in California, was more of numbness, than of a mixture of elation and dejection, which I might otherwise have experienced.

One never knows what his  feelings and reactions will be to a parent’s death until it actually happens, but having lost my dad more than 20 years ago and a bit more unexpectedly, I had an idea what I would feel, and in reality, what I have felt is not so different than I had thought.

These days, I just find myself remembering different times spent with my mom, things that happened, which I haven’t thought about for a long time.

I don’t have any regrets about having left anything unsaid as some people do.  My family was never one to share a lot of personal feelings openly, either verbally or physically.  Somewhere, though, after I had grown up, my mother began to show that she cared about others more physically, so when I came home from the military, I was surprised, and somewhat uncomfortable when she wanted to hug me at the airport.

My mom and I never had “the talk” about my being gay.  She gave me (and my brothers too, I think) firey warnings about getting some girl pregnant when I was in high school.  Then she kept up the question, “Got a girlfriend?” after I was in college and later on.  After many years of that, she finally stopped, but I could see her ears perk up the times when I would mention some female colleague or friend.  She finally stopped all of that after she came and spent some time visiting me.  I’m sure she saw the photograph of me and my long-distance boyfriend, which I had purposeful left on my dresser.  He called me during her visit, and she later asked me how he was doing, but we never talked anything about exactly what our relationship was.  I think she had known about me all along though, maybe not exactly, because sexuality would have been far from any theme that would have been discussed.

That was the way we were in my family, never being able to talk about much of anything we felt inside with each other.

With my dad, it was even more so, because he rarely talked much, even though he was a pretty easy going guy, but I could never have talked to him about anything I was feeling. 

Though they didn’t show it much with words or touch, my parents cared a lot about me.  I was the baby, by quite a ways, and they spoiled me, even into adulthood.  One time my mom told me, “You’re what makes us stay young.”

I pre-enlisted in the Air Force, just before my college graduation, so I spent a month or so staying with my folks before I actually had to go.  I couldn’t believe it the morning of the day I was to leave when they told me they had a doctor’s appointment out of town and wouldn’t be able to see me off.  My sister-in-law was the one who took me to the bus station that day when I went to join the Air Force.

It wasn’t until many years later that I realized seeing me off to go into the military was just something that was too hard for them to do.  There hadn’t been any doctor’s appointment that day .