My mother has been dead for over two years, but today during church I was struck suddenly with the loss of her presence, her wisdom, her humor. Steve preached on the afterlife, and my reaction had nothing to do with that. I listened, making application only to myself without lingering on our loved ones who have passed on.
Our final song was one I’d never heard or sung before: “I Want to Stroll Over Heaven with You.” Suddenly I could see my parents, my dear father who died in 1984, and my vivacious mother, strolling over heaven together. So many times around dusk in the summer, after chores and dinner were over, Mother and Daddy would stroll around the farm or the yard together, talking about their day. After his death, she often talked of how much she missed Daddy and was looking forward to being with him again in heaven.
Singing that song gave me such a vivid picture of them together, looking as they do in pictures I have of when they were first married—in the prime of life and bursting with joy.
I made such a scene—fumbling for a tissue, blowing my nose—that two dear young professional women came to me after church, hugging and wanting to know if they could help. I tried to tell them what had triggered the tears, but simply started crying again. I managed to reassure them that my tears were not of sorrow, for I am so glad my parents are reunited. But I also have times that I miss them very much. I’m sure heaven is so wonderful that there’s no concern for what’s going on down on earth, but I would dearly love for them to know Finn and him to know them.
The other reminder today was as I finished a book I thoroughly enjoyed: The Lives Our Mothers Leave Us, by Patti Davis, Ronald Reagan’s daughter. She interviewed 23 prominent women “of a certain age” about their mothers and their relationships. I purchased it as part of my effort to read others’ books about mothers as I am writing about mine. As I read it, I was struck with so many similarities in mother-daughter relationships everywhere: Linda Bloodworth Thomason’s mother being unwelcome to marry into the Bloodworth family, but then becoming the favorite (that’s Steve and my mother!); Anjelica Houston living with a “constant feeling of foreboding…What’s going to happen next?” (my childhood with my mother); and Julianna Margulies statement that “if you want to have a relationship with your mother, you have to accept who she was in the past and move forward.”
I’ve been reading on this book for over a week, but the other statement that made me weep today was from Cokie Roberts: “When I am being my very best self, I am being my mother’s daughter.”
In our family we have often joked about when I am “my mother’s daughter,” and it usually deals with one of her less desirable characteristics, such as getting upset over a small matter or trying to arrange everyone’s day, week, or life. But the Cokie Roberts quote struck me as true also; my best self is also when I’m like my mother.