I sure wish I could still surround Mom with gifts. Or take her out to dinner, watch a movie with her, or walk through a garden and stop to feed the birds. Or just sit with her as we did so often in the last year, keeping each other company. Or bring her some flowers to brighten her room.
This week marks the first anniversary of her death. Dorothy Birkemoe Ross is no longer here waiting for a phone call or visit. But she lives on in my heart, my memories, my thoughts as I progress through each day. Of course, I remember her on special occasions. But I also see her in every hovering hummingbird, in every penny I pick up off the street, and in my Dad’s eyes whenever I visit and we speak of Mom.
I envision her as a teenager when I read comments in her high school year book—they all think she is so very “sweet,” especially Dad. And that trait stayed true about her for the next 73 years! I cry with her whenever I watch a sentimental comedy that she would love. I listen to “How Great Thou Art,” her favorite hymn and remember her love of church and singing and giving to others. I also am thankful that my sister Barbara was with her at the very end, reading Mom’s favorite hymns with her. I sure wish I could just spend another day with her, playing with her as we did as kids, feeling safe while holding her hand.
Mom always loved kids and dogs. So every time I hear a child’s laugh, I expect to see Mom there playing jacks with her or showing how an old-fashioned top works, or maybe demonstrating the use of a hula hoop. If I pet a dog that I meet throughout the day, I know she stops and enjoys the moment too. As the holidays approach, I will make some of her favorite recipes, and she will be there helping me in the kitchen, encouraging the sharing of the goodies with all visitors. When I display some of her favorite Christmas decorations, she will be helping me adjust them, just so.
Remembering Mom, especially today, is bittersweet. As much as I miss her and wish she were still here with us, she was ready to go. She was comforted by her faith and was ready to join her mom, siblings, and other loved ones in heaven. I picture them all together, watching over us all, urging us to be happy in our memories.
Recently my aunt shared a quote about the importance of such remembrances because they give us hope and love: “We are a remembering people. It is in our nature to remember and mark our remembering in special ways. By so doing, we extend beyond ourselves and our time. When significant people touch and impact our lives, we WANT to remember them. Keeping memory alive keeps us alive. Each memory is a story, and we are part of that story. Remembering is being linked to something bigger than ourselves. The candles we light symbolize that it is through the lives of others that we have become who we are.”
I treasure the memories, even when they make me cry. I share them with Dad on every visit but especially this week. I hope the bouquet of yellow roses I’m sending him will mark Mom’s love for him, even though she is gone. This tribute is my chance to mark my memories of her. For me, today, I guess I will just say, “Mom, I love you. I miss you. I feel blessed to have known you, and I will strive to be as kind and gracious as you were throughout your life. I think of you often and am inspired by those memories. No matter how old I am, I’ll always be your little girl.”
The following slide show was played at Mom’s Memorial Service. It documents her life and family as well as a few of the things that made her so special. The slide show does not include a photo of her newest great grandchild, but I bet she was smiling down on him when he was born about six months ago. As Dad and I watch the slide show again this weekend, we will share her love and our memories. She will always be with us! Of course, if you are going to watch the slide show, Mom would offer you a cookie and a cup of coffee! Or some popcorn. Or a rice krispy treat. Or a piece of pie. You may as well say, “YES!” Everyone does eventually.