I’m not entirely sure how to write this so that it adequately conveys how I’m feeling, but I’ll give it a shot.
It’s my favorite time of the year and it’s raining – I LOVE rain – yet it still happened to me.
You think you know yourself and you rarely surprise yourself with your actions, but today it happened. While carrying a styrofoam container of skirt steak and mashed potatoes I got to my car, got inside, started the engine and had a good cry.
Now this is not the first time I’ve admitted to letting loose with some tears, but most of the time it has been of the happy or misty variety, as I’m not typically one to find myself weepy at the first sign of stress or sadness.
Yet there I was driving out of the structure barely able to see through the goopy flood of water pouring from my eyes.
I miss my Mom.
I really didn’t see this coming, as there was no warning or nostalgia tremors that had stopped me in my tracks during this Christmas season. I even sat down to write my Lloyd tribute last week with nothing but happy memories of the two of them together. Writing about that didn’t make me the least bit sad.
Perhaps my sisters Donna and Denise, or brother David, can relate to what I am experiencing. I’m sure Samantha would give me a loving nod of understanding, as she knows me better than I know myself.
But I was all alone to my thoughts, grief, tears and mashed potatoes this afternoon, and it was just so difficult.
So many regrets….
That Emily would only have the faint memory of her Grandma D.
That Sam would only have memories of my cantankerous Mom and never really got to see her enjoy life.
That Trevor will never know that old lady in the photos on our walls.
Guys – It just really hurts today. Need to snap out of it….
Okay, I’ve got something that may brighten things up a little bit.
I’ve compiled plenty of lists lately and with my love of all things Christmas it would seem natural to pen the “12 Memories of Dorothy Marie” – obviously inspired by the “12 Days of Christmas,” but I have to give credit where credit is due and thank my friend Doreen who has ambitiously set out to blog about the 12 Days of Christmas in her very unique and entertaining style.
My “12 Memories of Dorothy Marie” is nothing but a bittersweet remembrance of the lady I call Mom and still love very dearly. This is not intended to be put to music, but here are my 12 fondest memories of my Mom.
1) Smoking: Yes, the thing that I quarreled the most about with Mom was her smoking, but it remains a pleasant memory for me, as her signature look was sitting at our dining room table working a crossword and puffing her Camels.
2) Her Laugh: Purse your lips together and blow. Make that raspberry sound – almost like a trumpet – and that was the beginning of a very memorable laugh. The longer the raspberry the funnier the moment.
3) The Hair: My Mom and my buddy Brian had some great banter over the years about her hair. He insisted it was a wig and depending on the moment, she would either play coy or act offended at the suggestion. It was quite a mane of gray hair and reminds me that I obviously inherited the hairline from my Dad’s side of the family.
4) Her Driving Skills/Fear of the Freeway: Okay get this: The woman would floor the gas pedal taking me to soccer or baseball practice, I mean, she was a menace on residential streets, yet she was absolutely petrified to drive on our freeways. Mom would have us taking side streets all the way to Disneyland!
5) Valentine’s Day: I get to February 14th and instantly recall being a little guy sitting down at the dinner table and there would be a tiny heart-shaped box of chocolates on my plate from Mom. I loved that!
6) The Yellow Card: The issuance of a yellow card in soccer is typically reserved for players who have engaged in an overly aggressive style of play, but Mom the spectator was given a yellow card because she blew an air horn in the referee’s face. Twice.
7) Roller Skating: I was really young when my Mom would still put on the roller skates and jam up and down our long driveway, but I can still see it. She glided and made it look so effortless. She skated beautifully.
8 ) Her Taste in Music: Old Dorothy loved her some country and western music. And Engelbert Humperdinck. And Barry Manilow. And Neil Diamond. Consequently I enjoyed all of that music too, and while I won’t ever profess to loving the twangs of C&W music, I can tell you that I have some Charlie Rich music on the iPod in memory of Old Dorothy.
9) Mom and Dad: Sitting next to each other on our big couch. Happy memory. Hard to write about it.
10) Mom and Lloyd: How many people find the love of their life twice? It was simply fun watching the two of them together.
11) The Black Angus: My Mom was to The B.A. what Norm was to “Cheers.” She should have owned stock in Stuart Anderson’s. Anyone who worked at the Torrance location likely knew Dorothy, and she always took the time to get to know all the host and wait staff. I always remember going there after she had passed away and one of the young waitresses said to me with tears in her eyes, “She was such a neat lady….”
and of course….
12) Christmas: Dorothy loved Christmas like no other. The music, color, pageantry and cheese ball movie-love that I possess definitely comes from Mom.
But there was the year when she put up the fake tree in an effort at being practical.
There it was in the usual corner of the den, and she had decorated it too. She then went to work on selling the idea of the fake to all of us, and for the most part I think we bought it. But I remember a little bit of a quiver on her bottom lip as she finished her sales pitch. I also detected a hint of sadness in her eyes. I know she wanted us to grow up as responsible little people who would be responsible big people, and this was one of life’s little lessons.
Still, there was the quiver and detectable sadness at the green plastic thing masquerading as a tree in the corner. The lights even gave off a sorrowful glow.
Trying to convince herself that she had done the right thing, Dorothy left the house to do some Christmas shopping. I snuck a peek at her backing out of the driveway.
She was crying.
I can’t pretend to understand what she was experiencing, but it was likely some regret. I think she probably felt she was letting us down. She wasn’t.
But the kids mobilized and did the only thing we felt could rectify the problem: Get a real tree to replace the imposter. We worked frantically to remove the ornaments and dispose of the fake, then sped-off to obtain a beautiful replacement. It was a work of efficiency, as we propped-up the proud Noble Fir and quickly decorated it just before Mom pulled into the driveway.
Walking though the door, Mom immediately sensed something was up. Then she smelled the tree. She looked at it and audibly gasped. Hand over mouth, she then proceeded to do something unexpected.
She cried again.
This time they were tears of joy.
Thank you God for the time I had with my Mom.
Old Dorothy. You are tremendously missed and forever loved.
Grandma D, Baby Emily and LC (March, 2005)