Over the years I have amassed items gathered from the people around me. I have an elephant cigarette box that belonged to my mom. The day she died was a complete shock, sudden and final and unexpected. And, it was a relief, with the anxiety of her unknown aging future no longer looming.
Anyway, that brown pottery elephant: I drove down to her house by myself the next day and just wandered through her rooms. I’m not even sure why I did it. I guess I just wanted one last private moment to feel her presence before we packed it all up.
Have you ever done that? Looked around, seeing how a person might have left their home to run up to the grocery store or walk to the mailbox? There were piles of mail on the counter, a message on her answering machine blinking and this elephant on the table next to her recliner chair. I sat down in that chair and it was so personally hers it felt all kinds of wrong and invasive and so very quiet. As I faced the TV and observed the surroundings, her surroundings, I took in the box of tissues, the TV remote, a little notepad and pen and the elephant.
I have mentioned here on the blog before, that while my relationship with my mom wasn’t broken, it was never really whole. And every time we took strides forward to ‘getting’ each other, accepting one another, we’d fall back almost to the beginning of exhausting (for me and most likely both of us) turmoil.
Someday I’ll write about how my mom put me on vacation (or was that she took a vacation from me?)…but not today. Today is for elephant boxes, crib boards and leather backpacks.
I lifted the lid where cigarettes were to be stored and it was full of little notes folded half and then half again. The notes were numbered. I opened them in random order, each one carefully placed in my lap as I extracted and read paper after paper.
It was the story of me; carefully written in my mom’s distinct, neat, cursive handwriting on 10 pieces of paper. The story of finding out she was pregnant, even on birth control. Her happy emotions of learning I was a girl when I was born.
I’ll never really know exactly what kept us continually strained and now that she’s gone does it really matter? What I know for sure is my mom loved me, fiercely.