Well, Mama, it was sad not to be with you last year when you drew your last breath. I was not the only one of your seven who couldn't or wouldn't make it home. It was one of the worst snowstorms the East Coast had ever seen.
So you had to pick Christmas Eve to die. When our brother John called at 9:45 at night, I railed into the phone "NO", "NO", "OH PLEASE GOD NO".
"Take your time, Kara, take your time".
"But I told Mama that I was coming back in the Spring". "Why couldn't she have waited" "Why today?"
Why indeed. Mama, I was so mad at you for leaving me on this day of all days..........
We had seen each other just 8 months ago, and such a happy visit we had had. You even sang to me, your voice a bit weaker.
In time, of course, I forgave you!! Grief is a long, sad journey. Does it ever end?
Of course, there had been Pat, the oldest, who hadn't seen Mama since she left home at 17 for nursing school. I wonder how many other mothers and fathers she had seen take their final breaths? Useless even thinking about Pat anymore. Yet I kept up with Pat for a few years. Until she started talking that King's English crap. I threw my international phone card away after I 'called her on her stuff'.
"Screw off" she had shouted back.
Fine.............I'd "called her" for the last time. She was done with us. Though I think John is still in touch. He's that way, and has such a forgiving heart.
Most families have a Pat. Or someone or more than one who makes trouble at the memorial service. At least the rest of us had each other to grieve with, and we had overseen the service with only one or two disagreements. Particularly with the music. Mama would have wanted happy, country mountain songs. But John insisted on Church hymns. It was OK, he loved her in his way.
So many times we can be quick to judge a parent, and blame them for our childhood pain. I just felt like Mama had done her best, and for God's sake, she had kept us all together after our Dad had died. Pat and Dorothy were left in charge of us younger ones a lot while Mama worked. And, Dorothy was real nice to us. She was the sweetest of us children, and took after Mama the most. Gone so many years now herself. Dead of breast cancer in her 20's. Mama had to bury one of her own. She was never the same after Dotty passed.
For all those who join me on this day or tomorrow, or for whom the Holidays can bring the aching heart to the fore, no matter when our loved one (s) has died, light a candle, say a prayer. And then we have to go on.
Speaking only for myself, it's what Mama would have wanted. She was always young at heart. Mama, I miss you so. I'll light your candle tonight at 9:45.
I'll light it for You, for Dotty, for Daddy, and for all those who mourn with me this day. May they Rest In Peace.