By Sherry White Jeffcoat
As many of you know, my mom passed away in July and so I am aptly titling this writing with "I HAVEN’T HAD THE HEART".
It sticks in my mind for almost everything I try to do since Mama died. As a baby boomer site, most of you can relate to losing a parent at this point in our lives. Too often lately, the only time
I see any of the old high school crowd, it is at one of our parent’s funerals. Sadly to say it has also been at a few of our friends funerals.
We all knew these days would come, but somehow, it always seemed so far away, such a distant, distasteful, awful occurrence that none of us felt comfortable to talk about. Mama would say to Sandy, my sister and me "Oh ya’ll are silly, we are all going to die." We would tell her we couldn’t imagine a life without her. Somehow the idea of Daddy’s being gone has sunk in. He has been gone for thirteen years now, and although still sorely missed, I can still hold it together when I see his picture or see something that reminds me so of him. Not so with Mama now. It is too raw, too fragile, and way too painful.
I see Mama and Daddy everywhere I go, in everything I do, in everything I feel. If I pass the elementary school, memories flood back of Mama taking me that first day, and the panicky feeling I got when she left. I pass the post office and enter its doors where she worked for so many years, and the memories flood back. I ride past B and W, where Daddy worked for so many years and remember how hard he worked to support us. I walk past the fountain that used to be the kiddie pool and remember how Mama would watch us with an eagle eye to make sure we were safe. She would listen to every "Mama, look at this!" Usually we were just doing something stupid like holding our noses and sticking our heads under water. To her, however, she would exclaim with pride saying "GOOD!" to which we would then proudly continue to do the dorky moves we were making. She made us feel like Gold Medalists instead of the little kids with little rubber inner tubes and water wings to keep us afloat.
I am wondering truly how can I stay here where I grew up, when every single thing in this town holds a memory of my parents? When does the hurt stop and the enjoying the memories begin? I think many people think I have lost my mind when they see me and all they get is tear filled eyes and a choked up response to the "Hey girl, how are you?" I want to say fine like I always did, but I am not fine. I hurt, I feel too deeply, I remember too much. I don’t know how to change it. People say stay busy, get involved, it will get easier. I guess I know it will, we all go through deaths every day. You are just getting total honesty here now, I am not one of those bouncing back.
I want to move on and be happy again. Mama would want that and I know that, but when I take her clothes out of her closet and put mine in there, when I take her dishes that she treasured for over 70 years, and put mine in her cupboards, I feel guilty. I feel pain that what she worked so hard for all of her life is being discarded and passed on. She would want that, I know she would, but when it comes time to actually be the one to discard, the one to get rid of library cards, driver’s license, social security cards, it becomes a whole other story.
You donate, makes you feel good someone can use something she enjoyed or needed. That part isn’t so bad. What is bad is when you go through some card or letter she saved that meant so much to her, it must have because she kept it for over 80 years. Who am I to just throw it out with the trash? At this point, I can’t. I find myself wanting to ask her, "Mama, how special to you was this dish, or this letter, or this paper? How do I decide what to do away with or stick up in a cupboard somewhere where some relative in the future may or may not appreciate its worth to you. I don’t feel worthy to make those decisions.
That is why right now Mama’s house looks like a hoarder’s house. Not because she ever let it look like that, but because I am frozen in time finding it easier to just close doors off and put it off to another day because the hurt and the pain and the love is too raw right now. So if you see me out and ask me how I am doing, please forgive me when my eyes tear up, and I choke up and may even walk away. I am not okay, but know that one day I will be because Mama and Daddy would want that, they always have. I won’t disappoint them in the end, because they spent all of their lives devoted to just trying to make their children happy.
What a legacy they left…..we all loved each other almost too much, that it makes their leaving so bittersweet. They taught us well, to be independent, and good, loving children. What they didn’t know was that they did so good of a job, that it is just too hard to let them go.
When I get the "heart" back I look forward to writing my usual quirky outlook on life view of the world, and find my broken heart healed. To those of you who still have your parents, I envy you, and I ache for the day that you too may not "have the heart."
(Editor’s Note: Thanks Sherry. Do please pen more often for The Diva. We’ve been missing you.)