How could one woman touch so many lives?
Mom, we all remember you in different ways and for who you were to each of us. Mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, cousin, aunt and friend. I know your three daughters miss you the most because I am one of the three. Your middle daughter, Jeanne Marie, the baby for seven years until Susanne Louise, your last baby, was born. I should have resented her but; somehow, I never did. It was like getting my very own live baby doll and I cherished her. And Cherie Anne, seven years older than me, she cherished me and Susanne equally and now she tries to fill your shoes and she babies her little sisters, middle-aged little girls who want their mama, even though she misses you too.
I talked to my grand-daughter Rachel about you today and Mom, we were wondering, how your presence could have been so strong that we all feel lost without you?
Was it the way you taught us to be a lady in public, at least in front of you? Was it your always open door and open arms? Was it the way you were always there for each of us, ready to listen, never to judge? Was it your crepes, your pot roast, your home-made jams and pickles? What quality endeared you to us, made you irreplaceable? Why is it that not a day goes by that I don’t miss you; still, after nearly four years?
I have the questions, Mom, but I don’t have the answers. I would give anything for just one more hug, for one more of your smiles, to wake up in your bed as you held the world at bay. Did you know that you did that for me Mom? That I always left the world outside when I went home and walked in your door?
I didn’t have to be a wife, a mother or a grandmother, for just a while, all I needed to be was your daughter.
I want to smell Spam and fried potatoes burning in your cast iron skillet just once more, I want to watch your face light up with love when I walk in your door, just once more.
Every time I left you to fly back home, I walked backwards out your door, trying to take every smile with me, knowing it could be the last smile you gave me, but somehow I still wasn’t ready when you left this world.
Even now, I feel your arms around me when I cry Mom; the memories of your hugs are so strong.
I told Cherie that I hated Christmas because I miss you and she said you would be so mad that I hated Christmas. I know that’s true because you taught us to love Christmas and not for the gifts, God knows Dad kept us short on those, but for the traditions, the holiday cooking, the baking (especially your huge batches of Italian cookies) for the family you loved to gather around our table.
I know if you could visit me, you would, so I hope I’ll see you as I go through each day and I watch for signs that you are still near.
When I see a butterfly, I chase it, calling out, “Mom, is that you?” When a dragonfly allowed me to pick it up and hold it in my hand, before it flew away, Rachel and I both asked it, “Is that you Nana?”
I smell the wind for traces of Oil of Olay. I still pick up the phone to call you, only to set it back down, in tears. I still get excited when I see things that you love on sale. I pick them up for your Christmas stocking, only to set them back down, in tears.
All you ever wanted for your girls, your ‘beautiful daughters’ was for them to find happiness. So why do I cry every time I think of you?
Ok, Mom. I put up a small fiber optic tree and Cherie sent me the butterflies that cover it now. It’s your tree Mom.
Remember the year when I sent you the six foot fiber optic tree? You loved it so much that you sat for hours, just watching the colors change and glow. I’m going to celebrate Christmas this year and even though I do miss you so much, I’m gonna be a big girl.
Just one more thing, Mom. I want to thank you for giving us Cherie because she too is a woman who touches the lives of every person she meets and her influence, love and support are every bit as strong as yours, so although I miss you every day, I thank God and I thank you, for giving us Cherie.
Love, Jeanne Marie