Today is Mother’s Day. It has been nearly twelve years since my mother (Momma) died.
The intervening years have softened a bit the immediacy of the feeling of loss, but I still miss her — every single day of my life. She was, after all, my momma – the woman from whom I drew life’s sustenance for nine months, at whose breast I nursed afterwards, whose hands bathed, feed, clothed, soothed, and yes, punished me. She was the one who gave my my gap-toothed smile, my squinty eyes, and my love for reading and for words. (She also gave me ugly feet and a big nose). So of course, I miss her.
As I said though, every year that goes by lessens the immediacy of the pain of loss, and time brings a kind of healing to the heart. This year though, I miss her in a different kind of way, because this year I miss her as a son who is about to become a father.
In a few short weeks my wife will give birth to my son, our first child – and the first grandchild of my mother born since her death in 1999. He will be the first one she will not smilingly receive, who won’t be rocked in her arms as she sings, “Summertime,” who won’t know what her voice sounds like, or hear the cadence of her laughter. He will be well loved, that’s for sure, and my father’s wife, Joyce, will make a delightful grandmother for him, as well as his adopted honorary white grandma, Jeannie, and the grandparents on his mother’s side. But my mother, well, she won’t know him and he won’t know her — at least not in the way her other grandchildren had the chance to.
But I know that in so many ways he will know her, and she will be present in his life. When he’s born, it will be her hands through mine that will hold him. When he falls, she too will dry his tears. When I teach him how to garden, to sew, to clean — she’ll be there. The biscuits I’ll teach him to make will be hers. When I sit with him to show him how to read and write, she’ll be there. Through all the thousands of things big and small that my mother passed on to me and that I will pass on to him, she will be there, every day of his life; the unseen influence that he won’t know till heaven.