Without You: A Mother Missing Her Mother

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Dear Mama,

Did I mix up my “b” and “d” when I was first learning to read? I thought I remember you saying I had trouble with that and clearly I got over it, but Grandma said she doesn’t remember and I don’t know if I trust the teacher to catch little things like that. She’s so busy with bigger issues.

without-you-letterI finally gave in to the kids and tried to make cut-out cookies this year for Christmas. But we still can’t figure out your recipe for frosting (Rachel Ray’s is good, but not the same!) and I cried the whole time I was in the baking aisle at the grocery store. God love my husband, he gave me a hug and said the kids don’t know the difference between homemade and Betty Crocker—but I sure do.

The baby broke out in a rash the other day and I took him to the Doctor. Everyone keeps asking me if I’ve had chicken pox before. I don’t know. I thought I remember you saying that I’d had the mumps…or the measles…or you were talking about when you and your sibs got the chicken pox…I can’t remember. When people ask, I feel my throat choke up and my heart starts beating faster because I’m about to have to admit, out-loud, that you’re gone and I don’t really have anyone else to ask. They must think I’m crazy—who cries thinking about whether or not you’ve had the chicken pox?

I have discovered that certain things are only important to your mother. I mean, specifically, your mother. Grandmothers, aunts, family friends…they all remember certain things about you and your past. But only a mother’s heart locks away things like when you learned to tie your shoes, when you discovered that SweetTarts are your FAVORITE candy, and what kind of conditioner you used that always got the tangles out and smelled like clean clothes just out of the dryer. I know my sister got rashes after eating tomatoes, but did you use Dessitin? Was it my 6th or 7th birthday that you made that purple butterfly cake for me—and did you use a sheet cake or round cakes? I still haven’t been able to figure out who sings the “Hollywood” song that we listened too while housecleaning on Saturdays and I don’t remember when we started the Christmas Eve pj tradition, even though we’ve continued it with our kids. How old were we when you first let us decorate cut-out cookies, anyway?

Here I am three years later, with three little ones. I know who you were as a mother. I see who I’m becoming as a mother. Half the time I just don’t know why. It’s such a lonely feeling, knowing I’m now the family History-Keeper and I’m missing so many pages.

Love Always, Your Oldest Daughter

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