So I have moved 50 times ’round the seasons.
And my dreams have lost some grandeur coming true.
There were new dreams along the way. Some of them still matter; some were fantasies of youthful exuberance and abject cluelessness.
I am not scared of growing older. (Ok, I am not happy with droopy eyelids you gave me.)
And now I drag my feet to slow down time (or the circles, to keep the Joni Mitchell motif). Really, to hold onto to the stories and memories of you, Dad and the older generation. I look at the old pictures to remind me of the people who made me (for better or worse) the person I am today. Those fallible, lovable and wildly eccentric (ok, our family once was poor, so I think we only qualify as “crazy”) people.
I am starting to forget some of the stories. Dad has forgotten almost everything. I can’t lose you any more than I already have. And I need room to experience and remember the joys of your grandchildren, all three wonderful boys, and especially my little guy, SOS.
Years ago, when I imagined turning 50, I thought I would have security, maturity and direction in life. And I fully expected that you would be telling me the story about my birth, as you always did. Life doesn’t conform to expectations; they are really hopes and desires locked into a time and place.
Even though life at 50 is nothing as I expected, I feel lucky looking in my rear-view mirror and I am (cautiously) hopeful about the road ahead.
Ok, maybe I am scared a little about the road ahead. I have to remember that I am strong and the road these past years hasn’t been a cake walk and I am still standing. And I have to draw on the memories of those who made me strong without wallowing in the past.
But it is hard when you, my biggest cheerleader, are gone. And sometimes, late at night, when the world is too much with me, I need a guiding hand, a loving voice, and my Mom who had lived through so much, quieting my fears. I try to imagine you. It doesn’t always work.
Tonight, we had a pre-birthday dinner. SOB and I fought over the check. (Could you tell her to let me win just a few times?) SOB and I told the stories you would have told about SOB’s birth, BOB’s birth and my birth on our birthdays. The same stories, over and over again. And they get better with each telling.
One of the best stories concerns SOB’s birth. Aunt Gertie, who had three sons, waited until you opened your eyes to storm into your hospital room and screeched at Uncle Leon [Dad’s brother], “See, Natie could give Elsie a girl!!” Mom, you always said that was the most painful part of childbirth.
Have I mentioned recently how much you would have loved and adored HOSOB? Such a pity you never met. And I know you would be so happy that Cousin Gentle rounds out the crew. I know, I know, why can’t Dallas be closer to New York? You tell me, Mom. You are as close as they get to the Big Guy. Ask Him to work on plate tectonics or something. See what you can do.
Mom, you are the missing person at every gathering, every simcha and every sad time. And I miss your warm hand always reaching out to hold SOB’s or BOB’s or mine. Even at the end, you always reached for us.
And we still reach back, hoping you feel us across the great divide.
I love you forever, Mom.