This is my first Christmas without Mama. But what those in her world don't know.. Maybe they do; Our family just doesn't realize they know, is that in her house, there was no set tradition or rituals of advent for grands and great-grands settling in to await Santa, or discuss the gift of the Christ birth over bacon, grits, biscuits, honeydew. Sure, the outside of her house got decorated, thanks to Connie, and there'd be a poinsettia or two about the living room amongst the glass and ceramic menagerie of angels and nativity she would upload from some box under her bed, and all the new Christmas cards that trickled in from near and far, she'd put on display in neat array. She never moved or hid the old non-seasonal stuff already on display. They'd just get scooted over to make room for Jesus. Never room for an official Christmas tree, but there was always room for more tabletop ornaments and thoughtful candy dishes she was sure to get. And that one scraggly old plant tree in the corner, would get dusted and a string of lights added. But not this year. I haven't been to her house since her funeral. When she died in June, I fell into a vortex.
Not what you think. That vortex. While others mourned, I was composed and in a deep sense of knowing. I feel like, while some wanted her to wake up and get up, the desperate and emergent forces of death for Mama wanted to come and go, peacefully. I think she knew of my awareness of this, as it wasn't 5 minutes after I'd left her room to go home to freshen up, that she followed me out the room. I made a u-turn whilst walking through the parking lot, almost to the car, when my sister-in-law called; then my daughter crying and confused that Mama had been there with her and her temporarily deranged/bewildered cat, Oliver... some 600 miles away. Mama had passed away, and my being strong enough to leave the foot of her death bed was the gift she wanted. When I left, she left. -That's how I look at it.
But early in 2016, I had a feeling she was considering letting go this year. I mean, so many we all know, did. My daughter is grateful she waited until her college graduation. Nineteen days after, to be exact. The few visits I made to see Mama over these last months, I'd witness my cherished Uncle Lee in her gaze. Her only son, whose wife braved his mama's boy relationship to be loved adoringly and excessively by him. In moments of silence, like when I'd drive away and catch a glimpse of Mama watching us ride away, I imagined her thoughts chronicled glory days of glad tidings and reconciling with family long gone, I'd never met or even heard of. Likening it to the little children knowing that Santa's on his way... Yes. She knew it was her time. And I believe she chose the moment. Save Connie and Ouida and that none-existent DNR order, the Dallas Fire Department so diligently respected, broke ribs making her heart beat again. The screams of "Madea wake up!" in the CCU, and my prayers that the noise would stop to let her cross over. I knew she was trying to rest in peace, breathing tubes, tape, hoverers and all.
I was sad more after she died than during the whole 24 hour artificial death process. To everyone who knew her, her presence was unmistakable. Yes, I have moments of soreness, and surprising mordancy, where I feel her tremendous loss, among other things. Wondering, how do we breathe without Mama? We never had to before. She's always been over there on that street, in that house, with that same phone number, or at the barbershop, or gone fishing, or at church. She was never far away for any one she knew and loved. She was like Aunt Reva's pear preserves and spit cup and organ in her living room. You just don't think about Aunt Reva without thinking of those. And Mama was 95. You just didn't blink without giving thought to her. Weird. If you know what I mean. Now. Has her foreverness vanished? Contrary to what Ester has said, she's not rolling over in her grave about the details of her estate, and the status of her house. That vault she bought to rest in and God are better than that, my dears. No.. Mama, she sleeps in heavenly peace. I'm sure of it.
I am thankful for my relationship with The Most High. He doesn't let me fear the unknown of death and dying. He has allowed my faith in the meaning of Christmas as the birth of Unconditional Love. Lord knows I need it. In all my imperfections, I do claim I am worthy of the Gift. Thank you, Jesus. I'll take it!
What you have just read is an except from the book I'm writing about my grandmother. I know, I know.. You've heard this before. I'm writing books. I'm always writing books! But this one will be short, but definitely sweet, depending on what you
feel aboutknow about Mama. To my waiting family, I know I said the booklet and DVD would be ready but the end October, but please give me a bit more time. The challenges of life and the mixed bag of blessings of my empty nest and life-giver pause, sitting down to write has not been easy for me this year.
Anyone can teach you about love... but I can make you good at it!
| This original photo & writing by Jackie D. Rockwell |All Rights Reserved © 2008 - 2016 |