Sunday, May 8, 2011

The kiss of a Dad on Mother's Day

Today is May 8, 2011 - Mother's Day.  Mother's Day also fell on May 8th in 1988 and on less than a handful of May the 8th's since.   I remember that year well.  My girls were thirteen and nineteen and I had been hearing sounds of pots and pans and laughter as I lay in bed trying to catch a few more winks of sleep.  Ahh, the sweet sounds of breakfast in the making.  The phone rang and I picked it up on the second ring knowing who was on the other end.  Mother's Day was a lonely, sentimental day for my Dad, having lost my mother, his wife of sixty years three years earlier - the mother of his seven children - his best friend.

"Good morning, Daddy", I said, without even waiting for him to say anything.  He laughed, thinking it was funny that he didn't have to identify himself.  "Can you come over and help me pick your mother's peonies to put on her grave this morning?".  "Sure", I said, "can I wait until I have breakfast?", but knowing full well what he would say.  "Come on now, if you don't mind.  You can eat breakfast later".   At eighty-five, Dad had earned the right to ask pretty much what he pleased.

I quickly dressed, told the kids to put breakfast on hold and drove the mile to my Dad's farm.  As we cut the peony stems, we talked about mom and how much we missed her.  We talked about her love of flowers and how she especially loved peonies and enjoyed sharing the tubers each Fall with her friends so they could enjoy their own come Spring.   I arranged them with other greenery in a large metal flower basket that Dad had saved from Mom's funeral flowers.  They did look lovely as we placed them on Mom's grave at our church a few minutes later.   Dad and I shared a few tears as we held hands and prayed over Mother's grave, all the while imagining her smiling down at us from heaven.

A couple of hours later we all sat in the family church pew and shared worship together.  Daddy gave my girls their customary juicy fruit chewing gum and a kiss, and then turned to give me a kiss and wish me a happy Mother's Day as we left church.  "Girls, be good to your mother", he said.

That was the last kiss I ever received from my Dad.  He was killed in a car accident the next day, May 9, 1988.  Mother's Day always holds bittersweet memories for me.  A day when I celebrate my memories of my beautiful mother and a day that I mourn the loss of my sweet Daddy.   A few month's back, I found my youngest daughter's first Bible on a bookshelf in the library.  I opened it up and tucked away in it's pages was a piece of cellophane with something flattened inside.  It was labeled "the last piece of chewing gum Grandpa Carter gave me".  My girls had loved their grandpa with all their heart.  I left it where it was, closed the Bible back up, and cried - wishing we could all hold his hand and pray one last time.  But then I smiled as I imagined the two of them, holding hands in heaven still sharing the love they had here on earth for over sixty years.  Happy Mother's Day Mom.... and Daddy, please take good care of your best friend.

Note:  continuing the story tomorrow...

6 comments:

  1. Ahhhhhhh...I just came home after spending the days wth friends. When I got home their was a message on my machine from my bio mom. She really has had some struggles in her life and I have not spoken to her in years. Jackson and Maggie kept asking me why I was crying! She had left a message that said "I love you...I am sorry...I have been sober for 7 months..call me"! I am really struggling with calling her but your story touched my heart...thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  2. S, your story touches my heart even more. Only you can make the decision to call or not to call... but we're not always given a second chance.

    ReplyDelete
  3. OH My that was and Is a Beautiful story, however Sad. I weep easily for beauty in life and Nothing is more beautiful than Memories.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I lost my dad to Alzheimer's disease 6 years ago and I still wish so much that he was here to give me a hug!

    ReplyDelete
  5. I know what you mean Susan, that was 26 years ago and it still feels like yesterday.

    ReplyDelete

I love to hear your comments!