I hear the word MISSING and I think of my mother, Annabel Lee.
I have been missing her since May 2015.
Missing our daily talks, her questions and her support.
I did not know I would miss her so.
I thought I was ready for her to leave the world at 91,
Leave her suffering.
My mother, the poem, was a thing of beauty and a joy forever.
As I miss her I also find her….in me. First, I let the silver white undercoat
Of my hair take over. No more red. I found my Annabel hair, and I like it!
I have also found a way to experience her through the gifts she left behind.
She gave me her wedding ring from the 1944 ceremony with her childhood sweetheart, David Pillow.
I have their sweet photo in my living room, reminding me of the possibility of a deep love.
She gave me a long string of pearls, saying,” You rather bought these, but I only wanted a short strand.
These look more like you. More dramatic.”
I embrace my dramatic self.
I wear the pearls remembering the stories I heard from her the last year of her life.
The year dad was gone from his place beside her I moved into the bed and watched black and white movies with her. All the while hearing her stories of me, of her life, of her parents, the loss of her brother when she was 5 and he was 7, the way she felt about me, her first child, her first of 5.
“You taught us so much,” she said. “Your crib was in our bedroom, and we would awaken to see you peeking over the rails.” She reminded me that I learned to talk before I learned to walk.
“Who do you love?” she would ask. “Kaki Pillow,” I would answer with my name.
“What’s your name?” she would ask. “I love you,” I would answer. A family story.
Yes, I find her and find myself in these stories I remember, wearing the long pearls, the Chico blouses she insisted I take before she died, the jewelry she asked me to pick, the love she kept sharing with her 3 angel caretakers, the way she loved, “bloom where you are planted,” she said.
And always Corinthians 13:12
“Now we see through a glass darkly, but then shall we see face to face.”
I have found that painful as the memories are they are also a source of great comfort and joy, yes even joy. They bring light to me even as they cover me with a blanket of grey.
I have found a compassion for many forms of loss, things I did not understand before.
I have found myself in this careful re-membering of my mother.
KATHLEEN ANN HUDSON, Ph.D., is author of two oral history books on Texas music, founder and director of Texas Heritage Music Foundation, and from 1986-2017, taught in the English Dept. at Schreiner University in Kerrville, Texas.