I felt the need to be close to my Mommy today. I don’t know why; it was just a thing I woke up wanting. It’s funny; when she is just “Mom”, it sounds more austere. When she is Mommy, I am a little girl, needing her presence to take away whatever hurt or uncertainties I am feeling. Even in my 50s, this never changes.
The holidays may have been stressful for her when we were children; there was so much she needed to do and so little money with which to do it. She always seemed happy, though. The lights, the decorations – they have that effect. She would let me help with the tree and give me strands of lights with which to festoon our tiny apartment with. The Family Christmas ornament would be unwrapped and hung in a doorway; it was my great-grandmother’s before we were given it, and her mother’s before her. It was 100 years old when I was a little child. Mirrored, blue glass, simple in its design, I was only permitted to touch it when I got older, and we treated it with such care. It is quite heavy, most likely a lead glass, but it is absolutely pristine. She would hang it with such ceremony and pride. Christmas could then begin.
I now have the Family Ornament, and I care for it as tenderly as she did. My pride, when gazing upon it, swells my heart to bursting. Five generations of women, going back to the 1800s, have had the honor and the responsibility of keeping the heirloom safe, and soon it will be time to pass it on.
There’s a huge lump in my throat and I know that I can’t have her back; my mother, when she was at her best, baking cookies, preparing jams and breads, and depositing gifts underneath the tree for me to discover when I came home from school, and wonder about until Christmas morning. She always made dreams come true, and I now understand how hard that is.
I recently found a bag of my mother’s yarn in a bin I had put away. Amongst the tangles were many balls of remnants from projects past; my mother was a gifted knitter and crocheter. I would call the pieces she crafted works of art. In her later years, when money was again tight at Christmas, she would set to crafting for everyone in the family. Mittens with “idiot strings” for the little ones, scarves, potholder sets, pillows, afghans, slippers, and even stuffed animals. They were made with love and care, and her taste in combining colors and creating patterns was impeccable.
I have been meaning to take all her remnants of yarn and crochet a blanket, and what better day to start than today, when the need to feel close to her is so prescient? As I gathered the balls into a bag, I found one last, beautiful gift from her, crafted by her beautiful hands. It is a small, crocheted flower, most likely meant to decorate a pot holder, or hat, or pillow. It is golden, like a star, and its meaning couldn’t be any clearer. It is a small, tight, furtive squeeze of love from that hand I held, in the quiet of sunset, as she passed from this world into the next. I didn’t get it back then, six years ago, but I felt it today.
I love you, Mommy. Merry Christmas.