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Posts Tagged ‘reunion’

The best story my mom ever told was about me at the age of four years old. It was my mom’s 27th birthday and also a family reunion where for the first time all of her siblings were together under the same roof with their father, my grandpa. My aunt from Texas, California, and Michigan were there along with my three uncles. My three cousins were there as well. My grandpa’s double wide trailer was full of laughing adults and children all there for a good time.

After eating spaghetti and watching my mom giggle a lot after a few drinks, it was time for the cake. Let me preface this by explaining how protective I was of my mom. I can remember from a young age being afraid that something bad would happen to her. I only got to see her every other weekend because my dad had custody of me and that’s how it was worked out in the courts. During the two weeks I didn’t see her, I just had it in my mind that something terrible was going to happen to her and I would never see her again.

Everyone huddled around the round table as the candles were lit on my mom’s white birthday cake. After she blew them out, someone took their finger and smeared white icing on my mom’s face. I immediately freaked out and started screaming bloody murder thinking someone had just mutilated my mom’s face. I can remember her taking me to the bathroom, sitting me on the sink as she washed her face off. The whole time she is laughing and cooing at me trying to calm me down. I remember her handing me seashell shaped soaps to look at as a distraction.

It’s funny how intuitive children are. I always thought something bad would happen to her. A few days after her 49th birthday she was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer, she passed away two months later. Something bad did happen to my mom just as I suspected.

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I awoke this morning crying out in a loud sob. I had just had a nightmare. It was the kind of nightmare that gets tangled up with a memory. The memory was my mom’s memorial that took place on August 13, 2011. The nightmare was the memorial playing out all over again, only this time my mom was in attendance.

It was a balmy summer day, only hot if you moved around a lot or were nervous. Needless to say, I was a hot mess. The ancient trees cast a shade spot large enough to hold all of my mom’s family and friends. A canopy shaded the antique refinished table which was the foundation for the ashes, photos, and flowers. The ashes were in one of my mom’s favorite elephant jewelry boxes, the kind lined in red velvet. It was a heavy, gray bulky thing with an elephant’s head and trunk as the lid. It reminded me of an old black and white photo of a circus tent. The flowers were all white to symbolize peace and tranquility.

It was a peaceful day, despite the circumstances. There were so many family and friends I had not seen in ten years. It’s sad that funerals and memorials become a place of reunion. Makes seeing each other grim, hanging on the memories of my family until I see them again, which I haven’t since the memorial.

After the memorial, my uncles got out their acoustic guitars and played joyous music for all to hear. We filled the porch from one end to the other, sweating, crying, and laughing. The covered front porch on the old family home stretches the width of the house, cooling off all who enjoy the creaky old porch swing and colorful lawn chairs. That day stretched on until night, until only a few were left, soaking up as much togetherness as possible before returning to their everyday lives. We decided to explore the back acreage that held a very small muddy pond, hidden in brush, tall grass, and trees. I in a skirt and barefoot, took off running. I hadn’t visited that old pond since I was in middle school. I couldn’t wait to see if it had changed. The tall grass and brush scratched my legs and feet, but I didn’t care. I ran as hard and fast as I could, dodging fallen trees, and large branches. When I reached the pond it was completely surrounded in trees and tall brush. I ran around to the back side and found an entrance, where I immediately stuck my toes in the mud and waded around in the water. When my family caught up with me they chided me reminding me of what kind of creatures could be lurking in the muddy water and mud. I ignored them while I closed my eyes soaking up every childhood memory I could that included this pond, this land, this house, and all the family in it.

It really was a pleasant memorial, but my nightmare was not. My mom was in attendance. She took her spot during the memorial right up by her ashes, just standing there, smiling, wearing an orange sundress; her favorite. When it was over, we hugged and laughed, catching up as if she were back. Her hair was long and brown with no gray that flowed down her back and covered her shoulders; her eyes large and shining, and her skin lightly tanned and flawless, not a wrinkle in sight. She looked young and happy. That’s all I remember from the nightmare but now that I focus on it a little more I realize it wasn’t a nightmare after all. It’s not my favorite dream, but it was pleasant in a way that I got to see my mom happy and healthy, looking really beautiful. It’s been a long time since I saw that.

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