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The Grocery Bag – A Mother’s Day Prelude

Photo of my mother and I in the 70's
My mother and I in the mid-70’s. (This was taken two days before I left for Marine Corps bootcamp.)

I’m writing this on May 1st, even though Mother’s Day isn’t until the 13th.  However, I won’t post it until Mother’s Day.  I wanted to write this today to better capture the way I feel inside at this particular moment in my life.

This will be the first Mother’s Day of my life when I don’t have a mother sharing planet earth with me.  My mother passed on February 8th, a few months ago.  She had been living with my wife and I for the previous five and a half years.  Her death was not entirely unexpected – she had health issues – but there’s just never a good time to say goodbye to your only parent.

The Grocery Bag

photo of my mother in the 90's
My mother in the 90’s.

I knew my mother kept a grocery bag in her room filled with greeting cards that she either forgot to send or just bought ahead of time.  Until today, I had completely forgotten about that.

A short time ago, I was sitting at my desk and my wife came in carrying a worn grocery bag.  She started telling me it came from mom’s room.  I thought she was going to ask me if I wanted to keep any of it, so I started telling her she (my wife) could use them if she needed them.  But then my wife said something utterly unexpected.

When my wife came across the card-filled bag in mom’s closet, she noticed there were three cards on top with the envelopes already addressed.  Two were from my mother to me, and the other was from mom to my wife.  I again assumed mom had just forgotten to give them to us, as her memory had been starting to go the way of her health.

My wife told me to open mine, but I said she should look at them first.  If they’re for a specific occasion – like my birthday or Christmas – I didn’t want to read them until that very day.  My wife told me to do the same with hers.

Here It Comes

Photo of my mother taken about seven weeks before she died.
My mother at one of her beloved tea parties, courtesy of my wife. This photo was taken about seven weeks before she died.

My wife left to look at my cards, and I opened hers.  It was a Mother’s Day card.  I opened it up and began reading.  My mother apologized for not being able to be here on Mother’s Day this year to thank my wife for the exceptional care taking she did for my mother.  She then said she hoped to be looking down from heaven….

I couldn’t read the rest.  That knot in my throat I wrestled with during my mother’s final days was back!  It was just that quick.  My entire being flushed with emotion.  I managed to choke that knot back down, but I can still feel that raw warmth all the way down to my heart.

I had been wondering these past few months whether mom knew how close her time was coming.  She never really talked about it.  I never knew if she was “ready” for the final chapter in that story to close.  This answered that.  Thanks, mom, for finding a way to let me know!

My wife came back a few minutes later and said the two cards for me were my birthday and Christmas.  I’ll be opening the first of those cards on the 20th of this month.  I’ll be sure to have some tissue handy.

I miss you, mom.  Happy Mother’s Day!  I love you!!

3 thoughts on “The Grocery Bag – A Mother’s Day Prelude

  1. Julie – thank you for taking the time to read this and leave a comment. My mother mentioned those letters to me several times while she was here. For all I know, that may be where she got the idea. In any event, I feel utterly blessed to have them. I’m sure mom and Karen have hooked up by now. I can easily remember Karen’s smile, as I can my mother’s.

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