Journal Express, Knoxville, IA

Opinion

May 31, 2013

Slices of Life: The Gift of remembering

Today I worked outside in the yard. Tending the gardens. Raking. Planting. Pulling weeds. Taking inventory — lilies, hostas, poppies. And rhubarb. The large, elephant-eared leaves growing atop the crisp red stalks triggered thoughts of my mom. The plant was handed down from her garden, as were her recipes for rhubarb sauce and cobbler.

She’s been gone three years. That sounds like a long time. It seems like a long time. Or, maybe not so long at all. Losing someone dear is like that — like taking the Band Aid off slow and fast all at once. A double whammy. It hurts either way you tear it.

Three years, and it’s small things, like rhubarb, that make me miss her.

I was sprucing up the yard this weekend because at our house, we’re prepping for a high school graduation, along with the company that will accompany this major event. I wish my mom could be here to celebrate with us. I pause to think how proud she would be of her grandson.

It is important occasions — big ones like this — that make me miss her.

I gaze down at my hands that are growing to look more like hers as the years pass. I wear her wedding ring on my index finger as a constant reminder, and I am glad for the memories it stirs.

This is relatively new. Wanting to remember. At first, memories hurt because my psyche was stuck in the end stages of the Alzheimer’s that stole her being like a thief in the night. The disease is a boa constrictor, gradually tightening its grip until it completely incapacitates its prey. We watched her struggle. Helpless. It was an empty feeling.

After she died, I couldn’t push beyond the Alzheimer’s cloud to get to the memories of a mom before the disease. I tried not to remember — actually pushed my thoughts away — because they hurt.

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