This Time of Year


This time of year, I think of glass beads reflecting sprightly patterns on the wall. I think of Frank Sinatra on the record player, belting out “Fly Me to the Moon” one more time, and I relish the sweet aroma of bread pudding baking in the oven.

I think of rainy summer days and a stack of Archie comics, the shade offered by the large oak tree in our backyard, the miniature roses weaving through the metal fence out front, and the pussy willows grandly standing in a blue vase brought here from Venezuela.

I think of the faint scent of vanilla wafting from the kitchen, my father’s worn out slippers by his bedside, and my dolls sitting neatly in a row, against my bedroom wall, on the twin bed that is opposite mine.

Most of all, I think of Mama with her flouncy skirts and rosy pink lipstick. How pretty she was then. So pretty, I’d wrap my arms tightly, never wanting to let go.

I think of the church bazaar she took me to, when my eyes fell on a toy watch I just had to have. I begged and begged and she resisted until she realized that it would only cost a penny. That toy watch, which was useless in telling time, made me so happy. At least, for a moment. But it’s long gone now. Like her, long gone.

Enrolled in beauty school, she’d practice her hair-cutting techniques on me, giving me a pixie haircut, which I detested for I was convinced it made me look too much like a boy.  But then she’d make it up to me each summer by giving me a pair of new pajamas for our family vacations. A pair of brightly-colored plaid pajamas were my favorite, so much so, that I cannot look at any plaid fabric without thinking about them.

This time of year, I also think of my mother’s coffin and its gleaming wood that was brown as walnuts. We tossed roses onto it, as it was lowered into the grown, the roses sliding back and forth across the coffin as it sank uneasily into the earth. Unable to choke back the tears, I peered one last time into the deep hole and suddenly realized I’d never hear her voice again or get a phone call from her to see how I was faring.

It’s been 24 year years since her passing. She was little older than I am now. People say that with time, you get over the pain of loss and learn to live with it. Maybe so, but after two decades I still feel the ache inside. Like a wound that is smaller now, but will never completely heal.

Yet I know that life goes on and time moves forward. The ocean tide comes in and recedes. For a moment, I hear the rush of the sea and remember how my mother only got to visit me once after I moved to San Diego–right before the Alzheimer’s clamped down on her brain, refusing to budge.

I look to the sky and feel the warmth of the sun. Summer will soon be here and with it, the county fair. Which means horse-racing season is a month away.

Thinking of my mother this time of year, on the anniversary of her passing, has become a ritual in my life. With each new spring, I remember her and am filled with gratitude. For I know life goes on, my adult children still need me, and I’ve got things to do.

23 thoughts on “This Time of Year

      • Yes. It never ceases to amaze me how much time has passed and how much has changed in that time and that she wasn’t here to live through it all. It’s odd to think that one day (fact of life) we too shall be returned to the earth and that’s it. Gone forever. That is the nature of all things everywhere.

      • Maybe because I’ve been thinking of her, but I had this dream the other night. I dreamt I was with my daughter and that we happened passed a fabric store. Intuitively I knew my mother was inside the store and that I had to go inside to get her. My mother loved to sew and would sew me beautiful dresses as a child. But anyway, a store clerk was blocking the entrance and wouldn’t let me go inside. She said there were too many people already inside and that I’d have to wait for some to leave. We waited and waited, hoping my mother would walk outside but she didn’t. Finally, the clerk offered to take me around the corner to another entrance. I was so excited to see my mother that I quickly went. Only she had to drive us to this “other” entrance. So we got into the back seat of the car and drove away. The clerk came to a stop and told us to get out of the car and to go inside. But I couldn’t get out. I felt paralyzed in my seat, willing myself to get out of the car so I could go inside the store and see my mother. It was then I remembered that my mother is gone and that I wouldn’t see her in the store. When I woke up, I started wondering whether, was the clerk some sort of angel preventing me to go to my mother because my time hasn’t come? That I belong with my daughter? Strange and sad that in this world I was not meant to have both.

      • It’s funny that you said that maybe it isn’t your time yet, because as I read your dream, that is exactly what I thought too. It’s not your time to go yet.

        I sometimes wonder if our dreams are some kind of a birds eye view of another dimension, because I’d like to believe we live in one of them and that perhaps, our life essence (spiritually) may go into another dimension and live there. There are so many unknowns that it is virtually impossible to have all the answers to everything. It is however, somewhat consoling to hypothesise other possibilities about the meaning of life and death as we know it. 🙂

      • Well said. I completely agree. I really felt as though I was being sent a message for my own protection. I wanted to go and be with her in that moment. You know what the funny thing is? The night before my mother died, she was trying to pack a suitcase because she said she was going to see her mother, but her mother had died 30 years earlier. I hope she found her.

      • I think we instinctively know when it’s time to go. My mother knew it. She was having dinner with Dad and suddenly she wasn’t feeling well. Dad rushed her to the hospital and as she sat on her seat in the car, she said to Dad, looks like this is it. I won’t be back here again (meaning their home). Sadly, she was right.

      • Thank you for sharing your story about your mother and allowing me to share mine. Means a lot to me that we can be so candid about these women who each were so meaningful to us. Feels good to share and see the similarities.

  1. Beautifully written, Monica! Your mother, like you, sounds like someone people would be proud to know. She raised a wonderful daughter and in turn you did the same with your children. I aspire to be that Mother. I have much to learn. Thank you for your guidance through this post. 💕

    • Thank you, Meenal. From what you’ve told me, I’m sure your mother taught you well, too. Follow your instinct and remember, giving discipline is as important as giving love. I look forward to seeing you soon!

      • Really? Well, I am really flattered. I must admit I thought of my own beautiful mother all throughout. You have such a way of bringing people into your writing and making them feel what you feel.

    • Carl, I feel like I’ve lived two, maybe three separate lives, with different focal points. First, my childhood where my parents were the focal point. Then my married life. Finally, my single life where my children are what matter to me. I don’t get to see them often enough but when I do, it’s the best. The way I raised my children I owe all to my mother and the way she raised me. They’re good kids and I feel blessed because of them. Meanwhile, my youth, with my parents who were always around, seems so distant, as if it happened to some other person, not me. But then my memories are proof that life was real and even though I know it all wasn’t bed of roses, to me those days are idyllic. A wonderful memory, indeed!

  2. Lovely post Monica.

    Looking at your mothers picture and comparing with with of pictures of you, you are without doubt your mothers daughter.

    I miss my mum and think of her daily, I have still to start scanning all her old family photographs. When I think of doing it the time somehow does not feel right. But I will get there eventually!!

    • Stop waiting and do it! You’ll feel better and you’ll be preserving a part of your history. It’s my mother’s photos that helped me heal. I will never forget the intensity of the pain I felt in those early days after her passing. Like a rip through my heart. The photos are what keeps us connected. My father was constantly taking photos of us. I hated it then, but I so appreciate having all these pictures now.

  3. Monica, this is a beautiful tribute to your mom! I know “they” say time heals all wounds, but I still miss my dad, who passed nearly a decade ago, and I can’t fathom ever NOT missing him. Hang onto your memories, for they comfort us — I particularly enjoyed reading about your plaid jammies and that toy watch, ha!

    • Goodness, Debbie, it’s hard to believe it but I do remember that toy watch and how much I wanted it. And I was still too young to even know how to tell time! But my mother refused until she saw the price. One penny! What can you buy today for one cent? Nothing! Boy I loved that watch. But more than anything i loved my mother. Did you ever see a film called I Remember Mama? One of my all time favorites. Starred a young Barbara Bel Geddes of The TV show, Dallas fame. That film stirs so many emotions in me. Its about a Swedish immigrant family, but especially its about the mother and it resonates for me like nothing else. If you’ve never seen it, I hope you’ll check it out.

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