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A Legacy of Love November 8, 2012

Posted by Barbara in Art, Life.

A mom’s hug lasts long after she lets go.  ~Author Unknown


Saying goodbye isn’t easy.

Mom knew her time was near; her heart was ready for the journey.  Mine wanted to linger.  One more kiss.  Just a little longer to hold her hand.  And then that last, quiet breath.

Later, as my sister and I sat down to write an obituary, we struggled with the effort of telling the story of a lifetime in such a few words.  The bullet-list of a standard newspaper form seems so bland.  Mom was anything but bland.  We finished the writing because deadlines force action, but my heart continues to catalog the memories; we owe so much, my siblings and I, to that mother’s legacy.

One memory that has occurred to me often through the years was a very simple day.  I have no idea why I treasured it so deeply that I recall even the the smells, the color of the grasses, the sunshine warm on our arms.   I was about 10 years old, and we were walking down a country road.  Just walking together.  She told me the names of the birds we saw: this one is a brown thrush, that one a baltimore oriole.  We found an oriole nest hanging in a tree and marveled over the way it was built.  Maybe it was because I had her all to myself for a moment.

We washed dishes by hand back in the day.   Many times us kids would call dibs on the jobs.  “My turn to dry!”  “No, it’s not.  You dried last time!”  Most times, my sister ended up with the washing job.  But the best times were when Mom would wash, because sometimes she would sing to us.  With us.  Songs from the war days when she was an army WAC.  Songs from the great depression.  Hobo songs. Railroad songs.  Cowboy songs.

We moved a lot when I was a kid.  Dad was building a career in the oil field and we followed it around New Mexico and then to West Virginia, back to Texas and back again to the mountains.  It couldn’t have been easy to pull up stakes with four kids and a dog or two, load into the station wagon and head across the country,  but somehow it didn’t seem like drudgery.  Even when we left friends behind, she assured us there would be new ones waiting wherever we went.  She made it an adventure that I learned to love.

Mom was an artist.   She was a beekeeper, a horsewoman, a gardener, a genealogist and family historian.  She took interest in so many things.  But always, she was an artist.   In the last years, she treasured whatever artistic efforts her kids and grandkids made.    I’ll be fortunate to ever develop her eye for balance and composition.  But I try, still.

And that’s what it’s all about.  We watch and learn and grow hoping to be as smart and beautiful and strong.  We hug close and then pull away and then reach again for the closeness.  We say small goodbyes – for a day at school, a year at college, a marriage – knowing that we’ll still have time for more sharing and more hugs.  The last goodbye was different.  And yet, I remember such joys in her presence.   She is with me still. through that legacy of love.


If you have a mom, there is nowhere you are likely to go where a prayer has not already been.  ~Robert Brault



1. Denise Coulter - November 25, 2012

Bubs, Since I’m the sister who got to wash the dishes: Thank you for such beautiful, poetic words. And such a true tribute to Mom and the stability and purpose she gave our lives. Something that I am discovering is that this “good-bye” is really as temporary as all the others. True. I can’t call up and ask if it was pineapple she put in the tomato preserves. But I can hear her reply anyway, “How should I know. I haven’t made that in 20 years.” (It was by the way.)
Now I am discovering that she is still present in the foundation of my everyday life. In the way I think, in the way I approach challenges, in the way I teach both the children and the adults with whom I work. We have been truly blessed. She continues to wrap us all with her love.

2. Brenda @the blonde gardener - November 9, 2012

Beautifully said. i lost my mother 2 weeks ago and everyday I see something that reminds me of her. So glad you have that legacy and wonderful memories to hold on to.

Barbara - November 9, 2012

I hope, for both of us, that we will continue to see those things and be reminded. I find it to be a treasured journey.

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