Missing Mom

She earned the nickname "General Schwarzkopf" but was caring and kind till the end. 

by Jennifer Vojacsek • More.com Member { View Profile }
Photograph: iStock

Today is Sunday, and I just found this in my file from last summer — Easter Monday will be one year since we got Digger, our dog.

It was a summer of brilliant sunshine. But I appreciate the relatively gray hue this morning, which is more my preference. The 7:37 a.m. meek glow of sunlight that shown through the crooked blind and dirty windows of my living room convinced me it was time to write again.

Last time, I wrote was the beginning of this summer, and I said that although I am 46, I felt more like the sum of those digits, 10. As I type, I am not using my right ring finger, which is beautifully bandaged. Yesterday a wonderful surgeon removed a ganglion cyst that had developed due to arthritis. That bump had led me to finally go to see a doctor about my swollen middle fingers and crooked pointer and pinky. I am seeing a crooked theme. 

Crooked meaning veering off course. I can relate to the song that says, “God bless the broken road that led me straight to you,” the Robert Frost poem Two Roads Diverged, and Thoreau’s different drummer.  

As I type this, I am alternately giving Digger, the dog I got in April, half of my attention. He just plopped at my feet, either chewing his bone or the computer wires (just kidding, that was a one time thing). I could write and write and write about my husband and I having our first dog in 12 years of marriage, but I’m not ready for that yet. For now, I’ll just say that this SPCA Australian cattle dog mix was heaven sent to us from my mom who passed away four years ago this September.  And we know the correct answer to the “Who rescued who?” bumper sticker we’ve seen. 

Speaking of my mom, there are several reasons that I did not fall apart when she passed. One is just that. She passed. No one knows exactly to where, but wherever, the connection is as strong as when she was earthbound. This type of certainty in the spiritual side of life is how she lived her life on earth, so it is natural to have it carry over. It is human to have questions and doubts.  She had them, I have them, and it is comforting that Mother Teresa had them. But, in life and in her passing, the connection, the “coincidences” are too enormous. Over this summer, and on a daily basis, my belief is coming out the clear winner and growing.

 Two, as I drove to work my first day back after her passing, I started to feel sad and teary, and I could “hear” her get angry. She put so much work into raising me and knows better than anyone that I can’t afford too much dwelling on sadness. She basically communicated to me to knock it off. I knew to listen. An old boyfriend once affectionately dubbed her General Schwarzkopf. The boy didn’t stick around, but the name did.   

As I looked up how to spell the general’s name, I found this quote from him. “Courage brother, do not stumble, though thy path be dark as night: There is a star to guide the humble, trust in God, and do the right. Let the road be dark and dreary and its end far out of sight. Face it bravely, strong or weary. Trust God, and do.” This describes how mom faced her multiple myeloma. 

And this one about him. “Those on the homefront appreciated his no-nonsense way of handling matters and grew to think of him as a straight-shooter whom they could trust to have an answer for anything.” This also describes my mom!  Knowing this is why I wish at times that I could call her. 

This one feels incredibly personal to share in this on-line forum, but here goes. The last time I saw her, downstairs in a hospital bed in our family living room, as frail and sick as she was, she actually reached out and grabbed my shoulder, smiled, and winked at me. 

So, yeah, I still feel 10, like when my husband suggested tonight that we invite his friend Stacy over to teach us how to clip coupons. What grown-up concerns — groceries, finances! My mom kept us well fed with standard healthy meals, Campbell soup, and a well stocked cardboard box of snacks above the dryer. My mom let me be a kid when I was a kid, and stuck by me with all my growing pains well into “adulthood.”  What more could I want?        

I’m 47 now, but don’t feel 11. More like 10 and a half.

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