There are things in life that I could only ever really say to my mother (and in her absense I say here on this blog… perhaps not the wisest of ideas). When I rub up against them in life, I both smile remembering her personality and cringe at missing her. It’s a bizarre feeling to feel both entirely amused–to the point of chucking out loud thinking of what our exchange would have been in a given situation–and at the same time coming face to face again with the ‘oh yeah… she’s gone….’ feeling.
For example: I was at a really, really good bluegrass concert last night with the girls and a friend of ours. The fiddler was a particularly well-created guy. From the moment I arrived, I wanted so badly to call Mom and say, “I had no idea there’d be someone so nice to look at at this old-timey concert!” If she had been there she would have turned to me and said, “Val, what a babe!” After that there might have been a comment or two on the fiddler’s uniquely suited ability to wear jeans. As for me, I fear that if I expressed any such thought in person to anyone but her, they’d think I was an ogler… a lustful sin-pot daring to admire other men while my husband is away. Only Mom and I could really have that exchange without my worrying that someone was sure I was falling off the straight and narrow. (And indeed, Neither husband, nor anyone else need worry that I am headed down the slippery slope of infidelity. The only “babe” I need in my life is he whom I am waiting for. And yes, he still makes my stomach do flip-flops when I tumble into his brown eyes).
My mother, however, just couldn’t help herself in these situations. She had to make the comment. The glee that she displayed at her delight in getting to actually meet and hug Gary Fencik when he came to speak for one of her work events was just Mom’s way. How long after that did she talk about the fact that he gave her a kiss on the cheek (if I remember correctly)? She must have used the ‘what a babe’ phrase a million times that week.
Maybe funniest of all was the weekend, she met Husband (back when he was just… he who would be Husband). We were just starting to realize that we were perhaps ‘more than friends,’ and he and another friend came with me back home for a weekend. Our last night home, Mom and Dad took us to Perkins for dinner. Mom was asking Husband what he was involved in, and when Husband told her he enjoyed doing Civil War Re-enactments Mom blurted out, “Oh Val! Can you imagine? He’s already such a babe… I can’t imagine him in uniform!” Yes… Husband turned beet red. Mom realized what she’d said and at least pretended to be embarassed while apologizing to Husband profusely.
Then there are the innapropriate thoughts I have in church that only Mom truly shared and appreciated. Things like me accidentally chuckling at the sudden-intake of breath the congregation did in unison today at the mention of someone’s friend’s friend’s arm broken in four places. I sincerely feel sorry for this woman…. but the chuckle bubbled out anyway at the sociological phenomenon I observed. Then there was last week… when a financial talk was given in the middle of the service laying out the bleak financial situation our church is currently facing. What hymn was picked after that? None other but, “Day is Dying in the West.” My Mom’s gufaw would have been the only one louder than mine (lucky for me I was listening in on a monitor at that point, so as not to offend anyone…..). Not a Sunday goes by when I don’t remember sharing such comments with her during services and wishing that she was there to share more.
To say that she was one of a kind is the understatement of the century. It makes me smile that she passed on her love of irony, a bit of her sense of humor, and… ok, sure… her appreciation of well created men. I just so miss sharing these things with her and seeing her smirky smile and hearing her unabashed laugh.
Maybe though, these things happening… and my thoughts immediately racing to her are just her way of checking in and letting me know she’s still paying attention.