Happy Birthday Mama!

Have you missed me….?

Shirley Carson Ray

Shirley Carson Ray

I’ve certainly missed you. And so rude of me to duck out without even a fare thee well. But one never knows what’s going on behind other people’s curtains.

A lot was going on behind mine.

Today is Mama’s birthday. She would have been 83.

That tense is called “the present conditional”, and using it for her still feels so unreal. Nearly six months out, I still think: It’s been so long since we’ve talked, I really should give Mama a call. 

Or: “When is Mama going to make that coffee cake we all like?”

Yes, we went through all of the awfulness, the diagnosis–stage IV and in the bones–the chemo, the hospice, the family hugs when there was really nothing else to do. Coffee ice cream by the quart, when that was all she could eat. The measuring out of the pain medicines, the in-home caregivers, the hospital stays. And somehow we all made it through the funeral. Two hundred and fifty people came, many of her former students from far and wide.

Getting all of the special things to help her, the hospital bed in the living room, the walker, the oxygen, the wheelchair. She didn’t want them, and that was hard.

FullSizeRenderBut when it was time to get rid of those things, that was even harder.

Still can barely believe that Mama won’t ever see my new home.

Daddy is okay. I guess we’re all okay. Or okay-ish. Daddy still chokes up every time he talks about her, or every time someone does something nice for him. Fortunately people still do nice things for him every day.

And today is Mama’s birthday. Our first without her. We slogged through the first Thanksgiving. And Christmas–her favorite day of the year and her wedding anniversary–was even harder.

Today Daddy is going to have dinner at the casino with my sisters. Put a few nickels into Mama’s favorite slot machine. It’s too far for me to go, but as I tried to think of what special thing I could do it occurred to me this morning–head slap!!–that I really should say hello to you. And I’ll hope to be back regularly. Not all Debbie-Downer all the time, but an awful lot of big stuff has happened and you’ve always been good listeners.

So many things to adjust to. Like visiting the cemetery.

The day after the service Sabrina and I went to visit and get the lay of the land.

So odd how normal the cemetery place looked. The grass was back to normal, they must have even ironed it down. And the flowers, where are all of the flowers?

Sabrina and I examined the lump of foliage. Who would vandalize the flowers at a cemetery? Someone had ripped off all of the flowers. Torn them right off…

And suddenly we realized it was the deer.

Deer had come to visit Mama in the night and eat her flowers. She would absolutely love that.

And so do we.

Sabrina’s new synonym for flowers:

“Deer Chow.”


About Karen Ray

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This entry was posted in Family, Life Experiences, Motherhood and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Happy Birthday Mama!

  1. Patrice Reiss says:

    Karen, it is so wonderful to read you blog again! Glad you are back blogging. This tribute to your mother is beautiful. The pictures are amazing.

  2. Tracy Wyckoff says:

    Hi Karen. That was a beautiful tribute to your mama. I was really glad to see your dad and you at the Yearly tribute Melly sang at. Your dad looks good though I imagine he’s lonely as all get out. The deer eating the flowers is hilarious! With your writing skills, and your families stories/adventures and the humor in all (most) of it, I can picture a novel and a movie. Thank you for writing that! Tracy

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