"Meanwhile back at Mama's, the for sale sign's goin' up and I'm gonna dump this truck and the little I got on a loan to own and a three-acre lot. Put supper on the stove and beer in the fridge... goin' for broke and we're gonna be rich." - Tim McGraw, Meanwhile Back at Mama's
I am 28 years old, and I am too young to lose my mother. I am sure I will eventually mutter to myself, "I am 40 years old, and I am too young to lose my mother."
I am one of the lucky ones who still have their mother beside them. She is a part of my daily life. We share phone calls, dinners and car rides and we swap book recommendations. We share the same crazy hair and blue eyes and love for libraries. I play her favorite word game with her whenever she asks. As we sit down to play, my mother looks at me and says, "I used to play 500 Rummy with my mother."
I still call her when I am upset, happy or when something really great happens. She lets me take out my frustrations on her, even though I shouldn't. Now, I know I have not met every mother on this planet, but my siblings and I would agree that Gail Cook has got to be ranked among the best mothers of all time.
Yes, I am 28 years old and I am most definitely too young to lose my mother. This year especially I have been very aware of this, as my mother was exact the age I am today when she lost her own mother to Leukemia.
My mother's mother, my grandmother, died on November 7th, 1984, when my mother was only 28. Just six months before my mother was going to marry my father. Now, from my understanding, my mother and her own mother were extremely close.
Once she became ill, my mother and her two brothers never left her side at the hospital. My mother celebrated her 28th birthday alongside her mother's bed in the Continuing Care Unit. Nurses sang happy birthday to her and they ate cake with my family. At the time, my mother asserted they did not have to "celebrate" her birthday, but her own mother insisted simply stating: "It's tradition. We always have birthday cake on birthdays."
My mother painted her nails for her. The day she was laid to rest, the nail polish hadn't even had time to chip, so the mortician kept the color, a shade of red, opting to not repaint her nails.
My grandmother never got to see my mother marry my father. She never got to grow old with my grandfather. She never got to attend the weddings of her grandchildren. Hell, she was gone long before she even had the chance to find out she was going to be a grandmother to four children.
My siblings and cousin and I grew up hearing stories about our grandmother, whose real name was Pellegrina, but everyone called Renee. Most of what I hear about her reminds me a lot of my own mother. How she was a dedicated house wife. How she would cook her children entirely different breakfasts if they asked.
Our homes have pictures of her hanging on the walls. She seemed to be a great dresser, and was photographed a lot in the home they all grew up in, the home that still remains in our family to this very day. She can be seen sitting with her family, enjoying a meal in their dining room. She can be seen posing with her son, my uncle, by their fireplace, her eyes beaming with pride, on the day he got married. She loved the dress she wore to his wedding so much. It was a custom, on- of-a-kind dress that she was later buried in.
Everything from here on out that I am fortunate enough to share with my mother, she did not get to experience with her own. I know that's a naïve thing to say, but I cannot even fathom that.
My own mother was with me during all my major milestones. She was there helping me when I moved into my first apartment (I even made her sleep over with me that first night). She was there when I got married. I wore her mother's pearl necklace on that day, so in way, I like to believe she was there with us too.
Even though 30 years has gone by, I now how badly my mother still wishes her mother were here with us, sharing meals and laughter. This breaks my heart because I am positive my mother is going to be the one person I will always need most in my life.
I presently hope to purchase the house my mother, her parents and her siblings grew up in. I hope somehow, in some way, my grandfather (who passed away in 2012) and grandmother know this and are smiling at the fact that more memories will be born and experienced there. My mother has gone as far as saying that she believes even the house itself "is happy again."
I feel as though life will have come full circle and being in that house will bring me closer to a woman I have never met. I walk into the now-dusty, quiet house and the history that still resides there is tangible. I walk into the foyer and it hits me right in my chest. It may sound silly, but I believe I am meant to live in this house, to bring it back to life.
I hope to turn this old house into a home, just as my grandmother did decades before. I want to fill the house with company and laughter and family. I want to take my own pictures of the family I will one day have sitting in that same dining room, or standing by that same fireplace.
It might be cliché to say, but life is fleeting. People lose people every single day. I love my mother and feel very privileged to be her daughter. Even on days when she is driving me absolutely crazy, I love that she is still here to even be able to drive me crazy.