I spent years after my mom died having people tell me I looked just like her. I think on one or two occasions after she died, I may have startled one or two people I love, tricking them into thinking SHE was there, as if she always should be.
To this day, when I return home, I sometimes have older adults I don't know tell me they know me. Oh yes - You are Marlys's daughter! (I am SURE my mom was always skinnier than I am now. I weigh too much and my face is much rounder then it should be.)
But - what I REALLY wonder is if I am JUST LIKE HER on the INSIDE. Is my heart hers? As time passes, we naturally tend to idolize those who leave us too soon. We remember ALL their best attributes. We remember the smiles. We remember the good. We remember the nice things they did. For me, this is most certainly true of my mom.
I remember her for much MORE then what she was to me, or Brett, or my Dad. I remember what she was to her parents, the women (and men) from our family, my cousins, her friends, our neighbors, the church, and to Brett's and my friends.
I remember her doing whatever needed to be done at our tiny country church. I remember her adding lots of sugar (the sugar beet farmer's wife brought from home) to the red Kool-Aid at Bible School. She spent time in the kitchen there every day, and soooo much more, from music to crafts and programming. She helped with Sunday School for years and years and years. I remember her mowing the lawn around the grave stones in the cemetery, and serving at every funeral.
I remember her caring for her mom and dad. I remember every Saturday in my younger years at my grandparents' house, doing the weekly cleaning, shopping, then setting grandma's hair. I remember adding most every Sunday for more than 12 years visiting my grandma at the nursing home when she needed much more care, then later my grandpa. She set grandma's hair at the Buffalo Lake Nursing Home too (and other ladies as well, if the regular beautician went on vacation, or there was no beautican. My mom was known for her back-combing skills).
I remember haircuts and perms for any and all (men and women, young and old) in the middle of our kitchen, and on a moments notice if necessary (after 10 pm when my cousin Matt was working late in the field planting the night before prom). I remember hair cuts in England for a few college friends when she came to visit me at the castle I lived in while studying abroad. I remember my mom working her stain-removing-laundry-magic in our castle laundry room for my friend Amy, who had accidentally washed her wardrobe with a tube of red lipstick. My mom kept at it (during her English family vacation) until everything was spotless. In fact, she came prepared with some Shackley products! This was EXACTLY what she wanted to be doing and how she found the most satisfaction.
I remember her dotting on all my brother's friends, and especially Steve after his little brother died from an ATV accident. I remember her visiting my sorority house and calmly trapping a bat my friend Holly discovered in her kitchen cupboard. She scooped it into a Tupperware and promptly tossed it into a snow bank with a smirk on her face. Then my mom and dad took us ALL out to eat, since Holly only had mac' n cheese in the cupboard.
I remember her sitting with her sister Toots several nights each week, at the bedside of my uncle Jon who died of cancer in hospice care. When another aunt was sore from cancer treatments, my mom came by to wash her hair and do some cleaning at her house. I remember she ALWAYS offered to be the "kitchen crew" for showers, graduations or open houses, including the neighbor kid's down the road. I remember how much my girl cousin's seemed to enjoy their aunt's company, even when they were teen-agers.
I could go on and on...
Today I am just shy of 40. That means I am about 8 or 9 years younger then my mom was when she died. I have kids of my own, but so often I still I feel like that 20 something I was when she left us. I wonder how to "grow up" to be like her.
Am I like her? Do I care enough? Do I give enough? Am I as self-less as she seemed to be? (NO!) Do I give enough of my time to family, with out even thinking about it? Can I sense what my friend's or family need, and somehow react to it in a way you barely notice she was there? Am I the kind of mom my mom would want me to be? Am I teaching my kids to care for others like she demonstrated to me most every day, so naturally?
I know I "feel" so much emotion from others all around me... but then what.
This Mother's Day I will put it all down here. I will reflect. I will try harder...
While I continue to dye my hair red with the same brand of L'oreal color my mom used on her own short do, I will do my best to model her in the ways of the heart too.