I heard noises coming from my kitchen this morning, or at least I thought I did. They were not the kind of noises from someone breaking in, or stealing, because I know my otherwise worthless dogs would have barked up a storm, and they were not making any noise at all. It was not my wife, because she was sleeping next to me. It seemed more like the sound of someone moving about and getting ready for their day—the sound of small dishes clinking together, a radio coming on softly. I looked at my bedside clock and it was 0330 exactly (shortly before I normally get up).
I got out of bed and wandered down the hall in my boxers, because why not? I immediately saw a light on in the kitchen, and when I came around the corner, my mother was there in a bathrobe, frying something in a skillet. She turned to look at me and said my name, “Tommy.”
I haven’t been Tommy in a number of years, but this morning I was. I started to respond, but then I realized my bladder was really full, and I rolled over and looked at my clock, and it was exactly 0330.
Although I realized it was a dream right away, it also occurred to me that I hadn’t seen my mother since 1987, and the last time she’d been in a morphine coma. She looked pretty good today, all things considered.
So I sat on the couch, and I read a little. I had a couple microwave pancakes. I was restless, and I couldn’t concentrate, so I pulled up an episode of Hawaii Five-0 on Netflix. Kono was lost at sea on a catamaran trip she began in honor of her mother. There were a lot of flashbacks with Kono and her mom, where the mom would relay this…homespun Hawaiian wisdom to her that helped her survive. “For crying out loud,” I thought. What on earth kind of morning was this going to be?
I guess I was supposed to think about my mother. Which I do almost every day, anyway. So that is what I’ve been doing.
I don’t have a lot of stories of mom passing along wisdom—I don’t remember her that well, honestly.
But I remember she loved old-school country music. In San Diego, the station was called KSON. I don’t know if it still is.
I know she liked to dance—I remember seeing her cut a rug with her brothers when I was very small. We have a couple home movies as well.
I remember rainy picnics on the kitchen floor. Sitting cross-legged on the floor and eating PB & J as my mom sang “rain, rain, go away.”
Other times she taught me this snippet of a George MacDonald poem called Baby. “Where did you come from, baby dear?”
To which my response was “out of everywhere into here.” My sister tells me she had this old book, and it came from there.
I do have one of her old books, though, and I really treasure it. It’s an old and falling-apart Living Bible, featuring marks she made with a fading felt-tip. It was given to her by my aunt Cathy back in 1979. I don’t know how much she read it then—I don’t remember seeing her with it until the months before her death.
There was one psalm she underlined in several places, and I just found that a couple of weeks ago. 31 years after she died. Amazing. And very comforting. Here is Psalm 116, which she underlined in purple, at some point before the end.
“I love the Lord because he hears my voice and my prayer for mercy. 2 Because he bends down to listen, I will pray as long as I have breath! 3 Death wrapped its ropes around me; the terrors of the grave[a] overtook me. I saw only trouble and sorrow. 4 Then I called on the name of the Lord: “Please, Lord, save me!” 5 How kind the Lord is! How good he is! So merciful, this God of ours! 6 The Lord protects those of childlike faith; I was facing death, and he saved me. 7 Let my soul be at rest again, for the Lord has been good to me. 8 He has saved me from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling. 9 And so I walk in the Lord’s presence as I live here on earth! 10 I believed in you, so I said, “I am deeply troubled, Lord.” 11 In my anxiety I cried out to you, “These people are all liars!” 12 What can I offer the Lord for all he has done for me? 13 I will lift up the cup of salvation and praise the Lord’s name for saving me. 14 I will keep my promises to the Lord in the presence of all his people.
15 The Lord cares deeply when his loved ones die. 16 O Lord, I am your servant; yes, I am your servant, born into your household; you have freed me from my chains. 17 I will offer you a sacrifice of thanksgiving and call on the name of the Lord. 18 I will fulfill my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people— 19 in the house of the Lord in the heart of Jerusalem.”
So today I will remember my mom all I can. I will thank the Lord for the time I did have—18 years. Not all good, but good enough. There were struggles, but there were also a great many blessings. I’m grateful for them. If anyone I know reads this, I’ll show you that old bible next time you’re at the house. It’s awesome.
I just remembered my mom used to talk to people on a CB radio my dad put in the kitchen. Her handle was “Ol’ Blue Eyes” to my dad.
That’s awesome, too.
Not trying to be sad, or make anyone tear up. Just remembering Ol’ Blue Eyes.
A good thing to do.