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.