My mom and I had one of those conversations the other day that you realize at the time is precious, rare and will be remembered as long as you are alive. Having marked her 90th birthday in March, she’s clearly aware that her hours on earth are likely more limited than mine or most of the people she encounters in a given day. “I’m not afraid to go,” she tells me, “but I don’t like the thought of saying goodbye.”
As a family, we’re not great with goodbyes. She knows that. I know that. But we’ve also shared the mystical way that those not physically present are still very much with us, and that our ability to hear their wisdom has grown greater as we’ve aged. One of my favorite examples resurfaced during this particular phone call, and it has everything to do with the photo included here.
Long story short: When I was two, I became seriously ill with something that mystified local medical folks. I’d be taken to St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Centerville, recover enough to come home, grow a little stronger…and we’d start the cycle again. Mom was a constant at the bedside, Dad kept the farm running and aunts and uncles stepped in to help with my still-small siblings. Before our brilliant and beloved Dr. E. F. Ritter identified the problem–appendicitis…yes, in a two-year-old–I would pass through a couple of points in which my parents were advised they would not be taking me home, again. As a mom, and now the grandmom of a toddler, I cannot comprehend the devastation of such a statement.
It was during one of those crises, Mom tells me, that she had a dream in which she was talking with her mom, my Grandma Atwell. She asked Grandma just to tell her that I would live, and if she could hear that, she could keep going. The words came. I, obviously, made it. And this snapshot–taken in front of our little house on Highway 2 in Promise City–is from that summer.
Today is Mother’s Day. But to be honest, so is every day this picture crosses my mind.