Yesterday we had a family reunion with all my aunts, uncles and cousins. I hate them, not my aunts and cousins, family reunions. My mother, who is dead, has two living sisters and two living brothers and one of the sisters and one of the brothers has Alzheimer’s and it is so sad to see them sitting next to each other and not knowing who the hell the other is. In addition, the Aunt with Alzheimer’s looks just like my mother always has looked like her. It’s real hard for me to see her and not get a lump in my throat, pain in my heart, and want my mom to be there instead of the imposter mom.
Now today is mother’s day, a day I have hated since my mom died so long ago. I was a child, well, not a child, I was 11, pretty much a child. She wasn’t the best mom in the world and certainly she didn’t do all she could to protect me, but she had really good characteristics. I can not smell Jergen’s lotion without remembering her, that’s a fact. At night, when she worked and came home with sore feet, I got her a pan of hot water, and while her feet soaked, I rubbed her legs and ankles, and when the water cooled, I dried her feet and rubbed Jergen’s lotion on them and massaged her feet and legs. That was an every night affair. She never asked me, I just did it. It’s funny, I knew how hard she worked, how sore her feet were, and no one had to tell me. She was a waitress in a truck stop, that’s where she met my father. In addition to smelling like Jergen’s, she smelled like the truck stop, greasy burgers, and old smoke.
Yeasts. When I make home made yeasts rolls, I think of her. My mama made homemade bread every single day of my life. Her hands were so strong from kneading dough, and recently, I was making bread and when I began kneading the dough I looked at my hands and there they were, her hands, just like her hands. She made enough bread for our family and made spare enough to give to her friends and to the furniture mad, who I think mom and him were more than friends, I can’t prove that other than what I remember, but he came often to get rolls and they flirted and smiled a lot at each other. She also made bread for our preacher and his wife.
I find myself saying the same things she said, like, “Your’re gonna poke your eye out.” Or, “Don’t do that, your face will freeze.” There are so many that I got from her, I can’t remember them all until I hear myself saying them and I have to stop and say, I can’t believe I am saying that. My mom used to yell for us to come and eat. She should have had a bell to ring, or a triangle to hit, but no, she stood on the porch and one by one she called our names followed with supper. Now, if I didn’t hear her, one of the kids from our family or from the neighborhood would yell up the street and say, your mom’s calling and I knew it was time to eat and I grabbed my tag-a-long sister’s hand and we ran like wild cats home to eat.
I also laugh like her, not sounding like her, but laugh like her, all the time laughing and making people laugh. She never met a stranger and neither do I. Dogs and kids loved her and they love me too. IN fact, I have never met a child that I didn’t want to hold, nor a dog that I didn’t want to pet, she was like that too. No matter how much or how little, it was mostly little, food that we had, Mom always had an open invitation to the neighbor’s kids. She never turned them away. It might mean we got more bean soup on our cornbread than beans, but there was enough to go around.
Well, yesterday, when I looked at her four remaining siblings, and saw how they look at their ages and how they get around, and how my mom could be like them, like the aunt who doesn’t have Alzheimer’s and still moves around like a woman half her age, or like her brother, the one who still sails a boat in the Pacific. I mean, she would be old, but she could still be functional. I felt a tinge of anger that it was her and not someone else’s mom who died of cancer. I miss her, I miss her so much and wish, oh how I wish she had not died, that I could have had a few more years with her, that she could have met my children, my grandsons. I wish she was still here. Happy Mother’s day, that’s a phrase I wish I could say to the real deal and not to the sister who raised me, but to her, to my mom.