There are things I try not to dwell on. One of them is that my mother is no longer on this earth. She is out of reach and that’s not a thing I’ve allowed myself to examine. What I have examined is the speed with which cancer overtook her, causing her rapid demise.
Mama didn’t die last week or even last year. She died in September of 2012, on the brink of “her son” Barack Obama winning his second term. When people say not a day goes by they don’t think of their loved ones, it’s true. At least in the beginning.
I’d often reach for the phone to call Mama just to talk and I would stop—hand in midair—with a grim realization. Gone! She had several friends and so I adopted two, but it wasn’t the same. My mother knew I was mostly good, but she also knew I had a tiny mean streak. That was okay with her. In fact, she encouraged me to let that mean girl out whenever there was ass to kick. The nice old ladies don’t know that about me and they would be shocked. My mom and I were thick as thieves.
Some people thought Mama was my older sister because she looked so young for her age. An old deacon at our church, though he was around her age, called her “teenager”. She liked that. She was with me everywhere I went, so I know that she would’ve wanted to see The Black Panther and The Avengers. When I couldn’t take her out, my eldest daughter was her road-dog. My daughter looks like her, too, though my sister would argue that she looked more like mom than anybody.
Mother’s Day has gotten a little easier though I wear the white flower to church. It signifies that my mother is dead. I envy those who can still wear the red flower. I give cards and flowers to the old ladies who are in their 80’s and 90’s and wish that my mom was still sitting amongst them.
The Mother’s Day after she passed, I made a button with her picture on it and pinned it beneath my white corsage. People ooo’d and ah’d that I had brought my mother to church with me, and I had a grand time listening to them recount stories of the fun times or the spirited conversations they’d had with her.
This year when family and friends come over to share Mother’s Day dinner, she won’t be here to whisper to me, “That man over there is piling his plate with shrimp.” Or to admonish me, “I don’t know why you keep doing this. People are going to eat you out of house and home!”
I keep doing it for you, Mama. Maybe someone will pull me to the side and tell me how you impacted their life. I do it to keep you alive!