Thursday, June 22, 2006

A letter from the past

I came home for lunch and found a package from my sister in the mail. In it were letters and notes between my mother and me, church bulletins announcing the birth of the womanchild and a letter Mom had written her father years and years ago. Part of it read, "Cindy graduated Thursday night from high school. She looked so sweet and her face radiated with happiness. She is a very shy person but so intelligent. I pray that she will not be lonely during the summer. She still has not made up her mind where she wants to go to school. She will be working every day from 5 to 10 p.m. What hours but she wants to work."

I'm sitting here crying, both in a sad and a good way. My mother was not a woman given to praise. I don't ever think I heard her say that I was smart. I usually heard, "Get your nose out of that book." As for sweet or having a desire to work, well, that wasn't the usual commentary on either my character or my appearance. Part of the eternal growing up that all people have to do is coming to terms about one's parents, their strengths, their weaknesses and the nature of the relationship between you. From experience I can say that the more of this particular challenge you accomplish before your parents die, the easier it is afterwards. I'd learned to look beyond both my mother's lack and choice of words to find what she really meant, and sometimes more importantly, what she really didn't mean but popped out anyway. I still think I had a fairly accurate picture of the beautiful, complex woman who raised me.

This reminder of her softer side though still caught me up short. I loved reading those words and being reminded again of my mother's love. I'm very grateful that she was such a packrat now. Seeing her gracious Palmer method cursive on the simple, lined notepads she preferred to traditional stationery has brought back a ton of memories. I can see her sitting at the kitchen table in the nook of the bay window with a cup of coffee, a jug full of pens and her notepads, large for letters, small for daily reminders. It's hard to believe that she's been dead for four years. I really miss her today, and I'm missing my sister. We haven't talked in months, and that's all my fault really. Life has been both too busy and bland to discuss. I want to go hug the womanchild. I hope my love for her never comes as a surprise.

I loved my mother, and I do miss her, but I no longer mourn. Sometimes like today though, grief catches me, and it is both sharp and sweet.


Blogger Lisa :-] said...

Great entry. Wonderful assessment of the relationship between parents and adult children.

June 22, 2006 1:18 PM  
Blogger Theresa Williams said...

This is such a beautiful entry, Cynthia, and it puts me in mind of my own mother. Our relationship was filled with polar experiences. Hot and cold, happy and sad, soft and hard. I agree that seeing tenderness like this can bring tears, especially when we hold on to the harder aspects of our parents sometimes.

June 22, 2006 3:47 PM  
Blogger alphawoman said...

I think our parents generation learned how to love in a different way than we did. I'm so glad that she left you this wonderful gift to find.

June 22, 2006 8:21 PM  
Blogger Celeste said...

My mama has been gone 3 years now. Certain things still bring out the grief in my. Most times I can talk of her without the tears.

June 22, 2006 8:23 PM  
Blogger emmapeelDallas said...

What a beautiful entry, and yes, I agree with Lisa, you have really captured the relationship between parents and child. It's wonderful to find something like this (the letter), isn't it? It's truly treasure.


June 23, 2006 12:51 AM  
Blogger Jod{i} said...

Wow Cynthia, I felt this and I can not place why. Maybe just the loss of memories I experience and something so simple and so beautiful can just deluge me at a moments notice...
That heartbeating as you read the past...That, OH MY Why didnt I ever see this, why wasnt it shared with me then?
Beautiful Cynthia, just beautiful...

June 23, 2006 7:29 AM  
Anonymous BArbara said...

What a wonderful treat to find! I have correspondence saved from between me and my Mom back when I was at college. And some from summers at church camp. Glad you got this wonderful glimpse of your Mom's pride in you.

June 24, 2006 8:07 PM  

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