“Just write it, Kylee.”
My Mom started me journaling when I was a little, little lady. I don’t remember a time when I didn’t write. Now that I’m the mama of a mini-me- incessant-talker, I wonder if she was just trying to get a little peace and quiet for herself. “Kylee, please write. Please stop talking.”
I get it. Smart woman.
Still, here I am. She started something in me.
A few years before she died, my Mom gave me some pictures and mementos from my childhood. I smiled as I read the notes I wrote her. Some covered with stickers and some with i’s dotted with hearts. Some, serious and stern. Some hand-written, some typed on my precious typewriter.
In the notes, I offered both praise of her parenting and criticism and suggestions. [I smile as I type that.]
In some notes, I thanked her and in others, I told her how angry I was with her.
Sometimes I would request her signature as a read receipt. Or, I’d ask for a written response to a question (I’d provide lines for her to write it).
When I lived under her roof, I’d slip the notes under her door.
When I left home, I’d mail them.
When I’d visit her, she could always count on a note or a card waiting for her on the counter, or on her bed, after she waved me out of her driveway.
Sometimes paper and pen hold the feelings we are afraid to leave unsaid.
So many years later, I still write… for so many reasons.
Today, simply because it’s January 25th and today my Shirl, our Shirl, would have been 65.
Oh, I miss her.
I woke up this morning and looked up her house on google earth. I see her phone number in my favorites. All day I’ve been thinking of her. It’s funny, before she died I would hear people say in reference to their no-longer-living person: “There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about him/her…” and I’d kind of, internally roll my eyes. Like, “Really? Everyday? You think about her everyday?”
I think of her everyday.
I’m not grieving her every day.
But I think of her.
Vivi’s birthday was Friday. After we had taken cupcakes to school for her to share with her class, we were walking out of the school and the smallest feather crossed my path… Hi Mom.
Boom. Thought of her.
Today, I’ve been thinking of her a bit more. Today, I get to celebrate her. I like today, because it’s not about how she died. It’s not about her death at all, actually. It’s about her life. And I smile as I type this, because that woman? She had life in her.
I want everyone to know that I once had a mom who breathed air on this earth and she was SO GREAT and she was so funny and kind and smart and industrious and empathetic and wise and silly and I want EVERYONE to know that she was here. She walked this earth. She contributed. She made it better.
I want everyone to know that she never, ever, ever gave up. There was no wallowing, she had chutzpah. Go, go, do it. Get it done. Can’t get it done? Figure out another way. If she had an idea, she researched and she learned and she did the thing! She did it! She wasted no time on what others might think, but instead always stayed her course. She had integrity and grit. She paved her way, and ours. And she did so faithfully, with grace and sass. And, she was so cool.
I found one of my old notes to her. Typed on peach-colored bunny stationary in 1995.
I was 16, and the letter was dated 2 days after my birthday.
The last paragraph, or stanza, made me smile. (Apparently I was going through a poetry phase?)
Happy Birthday, Shirl.
I am so happy you were born.
This was my Mom.