“Memory is the treasure house of the mind” Thomas Fuller
“May she who gave you birth be happy” Proverbs 23:25B NLT
Of all of the words I have written in my life, I have written the least number of them to you.
For this, I apologize, and I will not add insult to injury by offering any excuses.
In death you remain larger than life, and the words “I miss you” are woefully inadequate to describe the feeling of emptiness that moved in when you left and which has remained there for 3+ years.
I know you are happily at home with God and I am grateful that your long-time suffering has ended. When I see you in my dreams, I see a younger, healthier version of you with your eyesight, hearing and other physical ailments restored.
And, of course, I see that radiant smile of yours that so many people over your lifetime were able to see directed at them, making them aware that true goodness does exist on this earth.
Or did, anyway.
My time spent in prison, so far, has not been spent in vain, I don’t think, Mom. I know you cannot be happy with my being in prison, but I also know you can’t possibly be disappointed by how things are progressing so far.
Since the Lord saw fit to save me from death 2 years ago my heart has been filled with a faith that grows stronger daily. My love of the Lord, and recognition of all he has blessed me with, has led me to peace and contentment, even in this – the most impossible place imaginable where one would think those things could be found
And yet, I have found those things, and I know this is just the beginning; that the best is yet to come.
Sometimes I can almost feel the warmth of your smile as you look down upon me. From that warmth I gather the strength to resolve the past, and find the courage to face the future. I love the time I spend reminiscing; reliving various times in our lives together, both the good – and the not-so-good.
In fact, just the other day, I was thinking about the time, – ok, the first time – I ran away from home on a dare by the next door neighbor.
I was 13.
It wasn’t until I stood in the doorway of Anthony’s bedroom when he was 13 (Can you believe he just turned 24??)and I was watching him sleep (my goodness – did I look that innocent and young at 13?) and for some reason, as I stood there that whole incident popped into my head and I thought “Oh, my God! I was the same age as this precious young man sleeping peacefully before me when my mom woke up one day and I was gone!”
I remember calling you that day and tearfully apologizing, explaining that it wasn’t until the moment I looked at Anthony and I imagined myself waking up and finding him gone that I realized what a horrible thing I had done so many years before. It struck me with substantial force just how frantic you must have been and how much you must have ached inside wondering where your little boy had gone and whether I was safe.
You reassured me that it was ok, and I felt your teary smile coming through the telephone, but I know that while you were reassuring me, you too were remembering that agonizing sense of panic and loss when my disappearance was discovered.
By the time or conversation ended, we had both laughed and both cried, and I believed you when you said that I had been forgiven long, long ago.
Your capacity for love and forgiveness was greater than that of anyone I have ever known and I believe – now that I know a little more about Him – that you got that directly from God.
Sometimes I am glad that you were not here on this earth to witness my final tumble from grace. That you were not alive to be given the news of my near-successful suicide attempt and the circumstances surrounding it. But I also think that if you had been alive to get up and speak about me to Judge Cohn, perhaps he would have been more lenient with me, for surely you would have convinced him of that, while damaged, I was not broken beyond repair.
He might, however, have sentenced me to more time for having the audacity to cause pain within someone so obviously full of love and goodness as you.
None of that matters, of course, since you were with me that day, in other, more wondrous – and powerful – ways and you remain with me today.
When ‘Pop’ had his stroke and it was decided that I would move to Florida and hang out with you two and help out where I could, it was as if the Lord was orchestrating all of it as he foresaw what would eventually happen to you, to ‘Pop’, and then to me.
I am very thankful for the time we shared, the three of us, and even though there were rough spots, there were also beautiful moments, happy moments, and humorous ones as well.
When we were 1st together I remember the frustration at the difficulties presented by your hearing problems. Remember when we finally made that appointment, had you tested and fitted and ordered your new hearing aids?
What a beautiful day it was when se went to pick them up. The pleasure in your face was a joy to see. You could be so much like a child in your excitement sometimes.
Remember driving home after we left the store? The conversation in the car was at normal level – no repeated words – no “what did you say?” – no raised voices. Just the three of us, talking normally. The joy you felt at being able to hear was evident in your radiant smile, and I’ll never forget what happened when we pulled in the driveway: I helped you out of the car and you stopped and cocked your head – a puzzled look on your face. I asked “What’s the matter?”
“What’s that sound?”, you inquired.
I listened for a moment, chuckled, shook my head and said, “Those are birds, Mom”.
It was wonderful to be part of that and to see at least a small portion of the quality of your life improve.
Of course, your eyesight had deteriorated much more than your hearing, and there simply wasn’t much in the way of mechanical aids to help you see better. You had your ‘talking’ watch and ‘talking’ clock both which, with the push of a button would announce the time. Of course, your clock – which was next to your bed – was set to announce when it as 7AM. I remember how it freaked me out when I first moved there and would hear the voice. That “voice” now announces 7AM for Kathy each and every day.
And let’s not forget your lighted magnifying glass – probably the single most important aid. Goodness me! I was just sitting here remembering the time I took you to Penny’s so you could get a birthday gift for one the neighbors’ kids and started crying as I recalled watching you struggling with that thing looking at sizes and prices and insisting on being independent and self-sufficient.
It embarrasses and shames me how selfless you were and how selfish I was. If only I had learned from you sooner, but you know me – “I knew it all”.
Now that’s funny, right there.
Actually, though – speaking of funny – I get a chuckle recalling the time I planted flowers along the fence in your backyard. You came to the back door and announced how pretty they were. Laughing, I said, “What are you talking about? You can’t see them!” You insisted you could, so I just kissed the top of your white-haired head and said, “Yeah, right – but thanks.”
My favorite story is one told by ‘Pop’ and happened long before I got there. You remember your blind dog, Teddy, of course (What is with that place, something in the water?).
Anyway, the story goes:
One day you ‘looked’ out the back window and ‘saw’ Teddy lying by the pool. (He never fell in, did he?). You opened the Florida room door and called out to him, but he laid just there. You called him again with the same result, so you called out ‘Pop’ – “Roland! Roland!. . . come here please!”
‘Pop’ walked up next to you and asked what you wanted. You told him that you were calling Teddy to come in, but he wouldn’t come, whereupon ‘Pop’ told you that Teddy was in the living room, lying on the floor. You pointed outside and asked him, “Then who is that by the pool?” Pop looked past you to where you were pointing, looked back to you and said, simply, “An iguana”, and turned and went back in to join Teddy in the living room.
Kind of glad he didn’t come when you called, weren’t you, Dear?
For the most part though, you were incredible to watch in your own home. One would never know you could hardly see. You could bake, cook, clean, wash clothes, iron – you could do it all. You were an amazing woman and I’m sorry it took me so long to notice.
Well, Mother, I could go on and on. I guess what I’m trying to say through all of this is that I love you, I miss you and I think of you all the time.
I also want to reassure you that, while I would definitely rather be somewhere else, I am using the time that I have here constructively and in a positive way to strengthen my faith in God and to work on His plans for my future.
I’ll write again and let you know how things are going – maybe share another story or two.
Until then, know this: God will help me set this right. I remember the past, but I spend my days now looking forward and looking up.
I look forward and I look up to my future and my hope, and my future and hope are with God.
I’m okay with that, and somehow I think you are too.
I love you, Mom.