I Remember.Posted: October 4, 2010
Lucille Mahaffey Hardy. May 31, 1921 – October 4, 2009.
I’m the type who needs company in remembering. I’ve always been accused of needing drama. I need to be alone some, but I need family. I need family to share memories with, family to understand my hurt and loss, family to share the hurt and loss, family to acknowledge, even family to gather together to do something physical in remembrance. I don’t have this and probably never will. Everybody is either too busy, too engaged in their own lives, too much in need of wrapping themselves up and being alone through it. I don’t even know if they remember what today is. It’s killer-hard to be the only one who needs someone and doesn’t have anyone who shared the person lost…and knows what a loss it is.
So today, I remember alone. I tried reaching out earlier, I’m not going to try today. Today, I will let work take a backseat. Work means nothing. I learned that the hard way. Twenty-six months ago I took a stand that I couldn’t miss work to go take care of my mother on an extended basis — I had a mortgage to pay, I had bills, I had to get that paycheck. So my mother went to a nursing home, entering fully social, walking around, eating, and doing fairly well for an 88-year-old, and three and a half weeks later she was dead. And four months later I lost that job that was so damn important. So screw the job, screw any job. Take care of the people who have been there for you all your life, who have sacrificed for you, who would do it for you now if the shoe were on the other foot.
Today, I put my mother’s pictures back on the shelf. I removed them and packed them away in a plastic container when I thought I was going to sell my house last spring. You can’t have family pictures out when you’ve got potential buyers coming in. Screw that. Screw selling the house, too, for now. I’ll keep on paying this burdensome note. It’s worth it to hold onto something special and familiar.
I made cinnamon rolls this morning. Store bought ones. I don’t usually eat sugary, store-bought stuff during the work week. I’m remembering Mama’s coffee cake…full of cinnamon and pecans and brown sugar…the cake made in a tube pan…and it stood about a foot high. I’ve never been able to make one that good, not in all my years, not with all the recipes I’ve experimented with. Just can’t do it. She could. She could do anything. She did do everything.
Later today, I will make tapioca pudding. Homemade. Because tapioca pudding is my comfort food. When I’m down, sad to the bottom of my core, when I need something warm and comforting, I go to tapioca. Tapioca does that for me. It’s because I remember being a little girl and sitting at Mama’s feet in the kitchen beside the stove, while she stirred tapioca pudding on the front burner. I loved the times when she made tapioca, I love tapioca because of those times with her. I need tapioca today.
Today, I will stain the block of pecan wood that came from my parents’ two pecan trees planted in the backyard in the late Fifties. My son got the piece of wood when the trees had to be cut down after the Great Ice Storm of ’94. I took it away from him, said I needed it more. Now, I will give it its rightful place on my hearth. I remember when the trees were planted. I remember the giant holes in the ground. Circular. Deeper, much deeper than I was tall.
Now there’s a hole in my heart. And in my life. And I don’t think it will ever close. I just don’t think I can fill it in.
Today, one year ago, Mama died. A horrible death. It’s hard enough to get over an easy death. But it is next to impossible to get over a horrible death. A death caused by everyone — every single person involved in her life, including all her doctors — making wrong decisions, doing the wrong things, not doing the right things. Screw us all. Her death shouldn’t have happened as it did, when it did. Screw us all. And screw those of us who have accepted it so easily, and forgotten.
I can’t. And never will.
So today, I will do what I do best. Run it off. Cry. Remember. Alone.
And then somewhere in my house I will tack up the old metal numbers — 807 — that I removed from her house the day we sold it. Somewhere, where I can see them every day. Even though I know I don’t have to see them to remember. Because I can never forget.
That, I can accept. And I can live with the fact that I will hurt until I die.
It takes one in every family to step out and make the effort to bring others together to remember in an open way — to join hearts and hands and share that person. To remember special times together, to tell stories, to share what life lessons were learned, to determine to move forward. It is sad when the request is met with excuses. An excuse is over in a day. A hurt caused by an excuse and a denial of open arms lasts a lifetime and doesn’t heal.