Friday, May 28, 2010

My Mom Rocks

This is not really a sad post. Even though my mother died one week ago today, this is more of an “Oh Roses, you have an awesome family” post.
And at the end, you will feel a great desire to send me a rock. But, please don’t.   :-)

It began with a niece. She questioned why Barnless Brother had a pile of rocks arranged on his property near the road.
“He sells them,” was the answer.
“Who would pay money for a rock?” she then asked.
“You’d be surprised.”

Of course, all of us aunts and uncles regaled her with stories about growing up on the farm, picking up rocks from the fields, chucking them onto a flatbed wagon, then dumping the wagonload of rocks into a remote spot in the woods.

“Can you believe we just threw them away?” Barnless Brother remarked in disbelief. “All that money we could’ve had…”

The niece simply shook her head.

***

When I arrived at the farm last Sunday, my oldest sister (who I will call Army Sister since her husband is an Army chaplain, currently in Afghanistan) told me the pastor had met with the family earlier to hear stories about Mom that he could use during her funeral sermon.

“We told him he needed to talk with you," she said to me. "You got to be home with Mom all by yourself while we were in school. We thought you would have some stories.”

So, the pastor asked me at visitation if I had anything to share.
“Well,” I began as my two sisters listened in, “we didn’t do anything special really. But after everyone left for school, Mom and I would jump on the beds…”
"You did?" asked Army Sister with a wistful look in her eyes.  “Did you really?”
“… and then we’d go into Roofless and Barnless Brothers' bedroom and eat the candy they had hidden…”
“What? No, you didn’t,” my two sisters began to chuckle.
“… and at naptime, Mom would read me to sleep with selections from my sisters’ diaries.”
“Oh! She did not! You’re making that all up!”

Then, I told Pastor this story.
(Well, look there.  It's a rock.)
Apparently, my siblings had never heard this story.  Barnless Brother, who I found out had been in charge of replacing that window, had never known how it had gotten broken nor how dangerous the incident had been.

Pastor gasped at all the right places as I told the story, but his only response was, “Wow. So, you didn’t jump on the beds? That’s too bad, because I could totally see your mom doing that.”

***

Several of my best friends drove in for visitation. One high school friend asked to see my dad.
As Dad shook his hand, my friend declared, “You nearly killed me working on your farm!”
“I did?” Dad smiled. “Did we have you out hoeing beans?”
“No, picking up rocks!”
Dad was tickled pink.
(Look! More rocks!)

***

The church was filled. Immediate family waited in the church narthex for the procession. It was hot, and it was sad. Hearts were hanging heavy. Trying to be strong for each other.

Across from me, Pastor was taking deep breaths, preparing to enter the church. I spied a stray thread poking up from the tassel hanging down his back. A small thing, really. The longer I stared at that thread, though, the more I realized I had to fix it.
Because we'd be looking at it through most of the service.
So, in front of Dad and my siblings and The Husband and boys and nearly a dozen aunts and uncles, I stepped forward to lay it flat. A quick flick was all it would take.
But as I smoothed it, it unraveled!
“Oh no!” I whispered to no one in particular, “I made it worse!”
I hurried back into place as Pastor turned around and smirked at me. Then he came over and made like he was adjusting my ponytail.
(He thanked me later for lifting some of the tension.)

***

The service was beautiful.
My mother’s seven grandsons, dressed in dark suits, white shirts, and black ties were her pallbearers. They were handsome.
Pastor, who lived next door to my parents, choked as he spoke about how Mom played with his own children. He preached on how we are never forgotten, never forsaken.
He said, “She was not forsaken the day she was washing dishes and… dare I say which child it was?”
I smiled and quietly nodded once my consent.
“… the day Roses was mowing the lawn…” and told the whole story about the lawn mower and the rock.

We wondered later if he had decided to tell that particular anecdote only after I'd tugged on his tassel.
It was an uplifting sermon. We smiled, we laughed, we cried.
Every time he turned his back to the congregation during prayers, we all saw that long stray thread pointing off to the side.
And sometime in the middle of the service, one of my aunts pulled my ponytail.  (I strongly suspect it was one of these.)
It was perfect.

***

That evening, Dad, us five kids, and the grandkids all walked into town for ice cream cones. On the way home, we stopped at Mom’s grave. Flowers from the funeral blanketed the fresh earth.
Army Sister sank her fingers into the patch of dirt and pulled up a small stone. “Hey, Dad, is this about the size of the hole Roses put in the window?”
“No,” I answered for him, “it was bigger.”
And suddenly, we all were searching the ground for a fist-sized rock.

By the time we walked away from Mom's gravestone, there was, placed among the flowers, a small pile of five stones. One for each of Mom’s children.

Mom rocks.

12 comments:

Andy said...

Roses, that was beautiful. I feel like I was there. What a joy to have such a Mother! Not all are so blessed. Much love, and prayers from us.

leeann said...

You were so lucky. You still are lucky. Thank you for sharing it.

Dani said...

Yoi made me cry. Good cry but still...

Dani said...

And my vision was so blury I typed yoi rather than you. Sorry bout that.

las794 said...

What a wonderful story!

Thumper said...

Dammit, I can't be getting all misty eyed right now, I have to go walk!

I remembered the story of nearly whacking your mom with the rock, but I had forgotten that line at the end, that she was a breast cancer survivor.

Before the SGK Walk Oct 1, if you email me her name, I'll write it on the shirts I walk in.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful.

Mrs. Who said...

What a beautiful memorial for her.

Dammit, I'm crying.

So sorry for your loss...

Cellar Door said...

Well, I don't know what to say, but thank you so much for sharing. And that rock story! I can't believe it.

The Gray Monk said...

It sounds as if you all gave her a truly memorable send-off. But if you seek her monument, I suggest that you look around you at your family and friends whome she touched - you are all a part of her monument and always will be.

vw bug said...

Wow. You shared something that touched my heart. *hugs*

Priscilla said...

I know it's not suppose to be sad but I'm a soppy mess now at work, thank you very much.

You are blessed to have such a wonderful family.