Friday, December 14, 2007


Yesterday I was at Safeway for my early morning espresso. Now "early morning" is relative because when school is in session I am there at 5:30 am, like clockwork! I know the night crew by name and Paul greets me as I come in the door. Not many regular customers at that hour.

But this was different. As my Mom used to say, and I LOVE this phrase, I was " Lolly Gagging Along" and I got there at 7am. Who did I meet but my former student Theresa Waco. Theresa was my student 15 years ago at SCC, and she is currently a special-ed teacher at Hamblin Elementary School. She is a former nun, former teacher at Mt. St. Michael, and her life story could be a made-for-TV movie. She is one of the many "could never forget them" students that I have had over the years. I was invited to her last birthday party, had coffee with her after her mother died recently, and I bump into her at Fred Meyers and Safeway regularly. We light up when we see each other.

My conversations with Theresa are never surface level. We always get down to it , as if this was the last time we will ever see each other. She, like most dedicated teachers at this time of the year is exhausted. She was carrying an "energy drink" that promised 4 hours of energy. She needed much more and days of sleep. We talked about Christmas and her upcoming holiday. We talked about missing our Moms.

Theresa mentioned that one of her sisters was putting together a family calendar with pictures and "Mom Sayings" from each of the kids. A few of the questions to they were to answer that would go on the calendar?...what was one phrase that Mom always said to you? What was the happiest memory you had with Mom? What was your earliest memory with Mom? If you could talk to Mom today, what would you say to her?

There just are not words, not any words, that can possibly convey what it feels like in my heart and soul to have my Mom gone physically, to have her dead, to not be able to hear her voice or listen to her wisdom. I can't stop crying, even now years later, when I think about it. After Theresa and I talked and I got in the car...a deep, deep sob came from somewhere inside me.
Truth is...I miss my Mom terribly! I miss her every day, I miss her when I am sick, I miss her at the holidays and on her birthday and anniversary...I miss her all the time.

Now you might assume from all that missing that I had a perfect relationship with my Mom. I didn't. She wasn't perfect and neither was I. For the last several years of her life she was very ill, and I traveled to Seattle every other weekend to help with her care. I coordinated all of her health care and kept track of all her insurance. She was often furious at me that I refused to buy her cigaretes and unhappy when I gave her the nubulizer treatments that helped her to breathe. I remember, deep in my bone marrow, the sounds of the oxygen machine that kept her alive at night. I slept in the spare bedroom right next door to where she was and could hear every gasp of air that she took. My life was uprooted during that time...a life lived partially in Spokane and partially in Seattle. Yet I wouldn't trade a minute of that "give back time" that I had with her. Not one minute.

You see while my Mom and I were very different in many ways, she was a detail person whose home was always in perfect order and I was and am someone where time with people means more to me than a clean house, I really had a Mom who loved me every minute. I had a "go to the ends of the earth for you kind of mom" every minute that she was alive. I had a Mom who loved me with every cell of her body and that didn't change when I left home. I had a Mom that could irritate me like no one else, but at the same time could love me like no one else. I had a Mom. Had a Mom.

I am currently reading Mitch Albom's book "for one more day". Mitch is the author of "Tuesdays With Morrie", one of my all-time favorite reads. In his latest novel Albom explores the question: What would you do if you could spend one more day with a lost loved one? This book, which for me is a 5 kleenex book, explores several life lessons that hit me in the face right now.

When you look back, and it is all said and done, will you be overwhemed with regret that you held on to bitterness and didn't do forgiveness? What happens to our spirits and our hearts when we refuse to see the good in others who are right beside us, our mothers, our sisters, our fathers, our brothers, our children, our spouses, our co-workers? What happens to our souls when we make someone "wrong" and can't let go of decisions they needed to make for themselves? What happens to us when we are too angry, too proud, too self-righteous, or too hurt, to reach out to others and say "I am so, so sorry. I must have really hurt you!"

Someone once said to me, "Treat everyone as if they have a broken heart...because they probably do!" Wise words. When you get that lesson, and see others differently, perhaps we can live life with more compassion and more real love.

If I could have one more day with anyone, it would be my mom. I would tell her how much I miss her and what a WONDERFUL Mom and friend she was to me. I would tell her I am so, so sorry for any of the petty differences I let come between us. I would tell her I am so proud to be her daughter, her friend. I would tell her that I will never, ever forget all of the sacrifices she made so I could go to college, all of the times she drove me to school, all of the sleep overs she had at my house, all the lunches we had that I took for granted. Now, when I see other daughters my age having lunch with their elderly Moms...I want to go over and whisper in the daughter's ear..."Soak it up, appreciate it all...she may be gone tomorrow!" I would give anything, and change any busy schedule, to have lunch one more time with my Mom.

I would tell her that I haven't been a perfect Mom either, but I have tried, really tried with all of my heart, to have Jessi and Amy feel as loved by me as I felt loved by her. I would tell her that I could feel her presence at the Nutcracker Ballet and wished she was there. I would tell her what Jenna, and Jacob, and Emma are like...knowing how happy that would make her.

So the life lesson for me today is this. ..Don't take those you love for granted. You will discover, when they are gone, how many opportunities you being angry, or hurt, or tell them that you really love them.

Trust me, that when they are gone, you will regret every wasted moment...and you will miss them beyond what you could ever imagine.

God Bless! Love and Hugs to all who read this! Love Linda


jessithompson said...

I am crying reading this... I love you, Mama. Thank you for sharing this special post.

The Farrell Family said...

I miss them both often. I wish that they could have met Ryan and the children. I think back to our special Christmas memories in Hawaii. They really were amazing to us.


Tiffany said...

Wow. This was a kleenex box post! What a beautiful reminder to not take our loved ones for granted - especially our precious parents. I love the picture! Thanks for sharing!

Kim Ellis said...

Thank you for sharing Linda - do you know that the book was made into a movie. It aired on ABC last weekend....I haven't watched it yet but it is recorded and ready for me and my box of Kleenex.

This week with Jessi's grandma being so sick has really reminded me to relish the close relationships that I have in my life. Any call to my grandma brightens her day and I told her this week specifically why I was calling....because I realize that one day I won't be able to call her.

Good job on the weigh-in as well - keep it up!

Finding Comfort in Kindness...sharing from the heart

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