I’ve had some people write with concerns of their own journey as a parent, child, and even sibling. Doubts of whether or not they are doing as much as they can. Loving as much as they can. Giving as much as they can. There have been comparisons to their personal journeys with Mama’s, indicating a sense of inadequacy. I fall short in having an answer to those concerns other than this one thought that I actively try to live my life remembering daily.
I truly believe we are only capable of giving what we have within us to give at any given moment in time. There will be moments when we are capable of more and most definitely moments when we can only give so much. Knowing this of ourselves, it seems only right to extend the same leniency to those we love.
When I write memories of Mama, I choose to reflect on her during her most giving, tolerant, and loving moments in life. That is not to say that she did not have down moments or loss of hope at times. She most definitely had her “off days” and doubts of her own journey through life.
We all do.
But, I hope when it comes time to reflect on my own path and for others to reflect on it as well, that I am uplifted and remembered for what I’ve done right and a grace provided to allow my shortcomings to rest quietly.
I write this post simply as reassurance to those that have uncertainties to recognize that we all have those same unsettling moments in life. My only words of wisdom, because I am the same as you, is to have faith that you are doing the best you can and giving all that you are capable of in this exact given moment….today.
There are times during this journey where you start to feel the shift of what used to be normalcy slide into something new and unexpected. Last night was one of those nights. During the latest hours of the evening, I received a call from my brother. While watching the news, he had just heard about the 5.3 earthquake shakin’ up my side of the world. It’s the simple little acts like this that are making a shift in our family. That call would have typically come from Mama, but in her absence, my brother stepped in and did what we all hope to provide for each other now that she is gone, someone to say, “I’m here for you. I may be miles away, over mountains, and across oceans, but I’m right there with you.” We all need this now more than ever. It’s one of those little things that Mom did that once subtracted from the equation, would off balance our lives tremendously if not replaced by some other equally caring act. She was the glue that held us together. She was the peacemaker and the news broadcaster. She was all of our “go to person.” So in her absence, when that phone call came through with my sweet, loving brother on the other end, it left my heart whole and my soul comforted. He filled in a piece of the hole left by Mom’s absence with a new normal….and I love him so very much for that.
This past weekend I found myself on a mission in search of an audio-book from the public library. I’m embarrassed to say, I haven’t visited our library in years. I tend to be one of those purchase and go kind of people. I’d forgotten how much I actually liked the library, but beyond that, I was shocked as to just how many people were visiting on a Sunday. The place was packed and not having found what I needed at the first stop, I was destined to visit another one in our town as well. Again, the place was packed. Although I wasn’t in search of any particular book beyond the audio-book which started my whole journey, I decided to peruse the shelves in search of nothing in particular. What I found surprised me.
As I meandered down the rows, sliding my fingers along the glossy bindings, I caught glimpses of necks, chins, and foreheads of my fellow readers peeking through the open spaces of shelving and I was drawn back to my childhood. I can remember getting my very first library card and how excited and grown up it left me feeling. I loved to read and would lose myself in a good book as soon as I’d checked it out.
Each summer, our small town library would introduce a program to encourage young readers to devour books on break. The anticipation of snatching up armloads of books, flipping through the pages, frantically reading to finish as many as possible before summer’s end was the perfect challenge for me. I could hardly wait for Mom to take us to get our first collection of reads at the beginning of each summer. She would start up the car and we’d pile in, heading off to collect our treasures for the next two weeks. I still remember the musty smell and dense weight of the books. It was pure torture waiting to finally reach the age to check out a book that was big enough to require a hard back cover with the crinkly plastic foil wrapped around it.
So as I walked through the library, running my fingers along the books to hear the crackle of the plastic, I remembered Mama and all the times she made sure we were doing things that were good for us, but disguising them as adventures instead.
“Most of our obstacles would melt away if instead of cowering before them,
we should make up our minds to walk boldly through them.”
~ Orison Swett Marden
A quote from one of my favorite books, Be, compiled by Kobi Yamada.
I have stumbled upon another delectable treat from Hawaii, shortbread cookies. One of my favorite things to do to wind down from a busy day at work is to stop and enjoy a cup of tea with a sweet biscuit. Sometimes, that’s really all that is needed to find my balance again so that I may continue on for the rest of my day without undue stress. I think that when we go through the loss of a loved one and find ourselves in the midst of grief, we take on stresses that we don’t even realize are there until we are completely overwhelmed and feeling somewhat defeated. These are the times we must truly stop, acknowledge our strain and find our sense of peace in order to move forward. For me, a cup of hot tea centers me and a sweet biscuit just adds a little “happy” to my day. I love these little cookies because they are individually wrapped, keeping them super fresh and crumble with buttery goodness when you bite into them. The fact that they’re dipped in chocolate is just the cherry on the top!
I love to eat Chinese food! There is just something about the blending of flavors and traditional dishes that gets me every time. But the thing I look most forward to is cracking open that crunchy cookie and discovering my hidden fortune! There’s a method and ritual to it that always wraps up a perfect meal. Today was a very busy day for me, so I decided to grab some Chinese food to go. Little did I know the absolute treasure waiting for me. I couldn’t believe my luck after gently pulling the perfectly curled paper out of it’s treasure box. “You know what you want – – Go for it!” I had to smile….it was the most fortunate of fortunes to receive on the exact day that I started with my Facebook page for “when the chimes ring.” One more goal accomplished. I have a feeling this is Mom’s encouragement. I truly believe that our loved ones who have passed on send us signs all the time. We just have to look closely, listen carefully, and slow down to pay attention in order to feel them with us.
I have to admit, there are times when I truly love just sitting in my home on a Saturday evening and enjoying the simple pleasures and luxuries that are so often overlooked during my hectic life. In my youth, if you had asked me if I would ever have said that, the answer would have been a resounding, “No!!” I was determined not to be a homebody that wasted away my evenings and weekends doing “nothing.” I see it so differently now. I understand the beauty in leisurely preparing dinner and then enjoying it with no time constraints. A lazy evening sipping tea and reading a good book is just as good as a celebratory night out on the town. It’s all in how you look at it.
As years progress, I’ve started to realize the value of serenity and meditation; whether that practice is described as the actual theory of, or some other recognized notion like listening to good music, sipping the perfect glass of wine, humming on a silent walk, or watching the stars twinkle. These are the fragments in time I feel most connected to Mom. At that moment when there are no distractions to keep the memories from showering down upon me, I feel a sense of calm wash over me. I miss her every day and realize the value in these peaceful moments. I’m free to cry openly or laugh out loud with no other eyes upon me and although it appears that I am alone….in my heart I feel she is there with me during these ups and downs, helping me through this journey every step of the way.