You Always Will...
Mom on Mother's Day
opened the dishtowel drawer for about the sixth time, hoping
the towels had somehow magically appeared. The brand new towels
still weren’t there, of course. “What did Mom DO with them?”
I wondered aloud.
be better off attending to the big things right now, anyway,
I got out
the vacuum cleaner. Except, why did it sound so funny? And why
wasn’t it picking up those bits of paper on the living room
carpeting? I pulled out the attachments hose and flipped the
switch again. Ah-ha. That’s why. No suction. The hose was plugged.
COURSE the hose was plugged. I couldn’t find the new dishtowels.Why
wouldn't the vacuum cleaner hose be plugged? And right then
and there, I started to cry.
Dad? I knew he’d gone outside and was probably puttering around
in his garden, seeing as it was the middle of April, but why
wasn’t he in here when I needed him? After being a farmer for
50 years, he could fix absolutely anything. Just at that moment,
my father came into the house.
"I miss my mother."
There. I'd said it
wrong?” he asked, noticing that I had been crying. Although
it had been years since I called him “Daddy,” it just sort of
slipped out, and along with it came more tears. “Oh, Daddy —
I can’t find the new dishtowels. The vacuum cleaner is plugged.
And—" I stopped and swallowed hard. “I miss my mother.”
I’d said it. And in that instant, the whole world seemed to
stop while Dad drew a deep breath and let it out slowly. “I
know you do,” he said. “So do I.”
only three weeks earlier, my mother had been diagnosed with
advanced gallbladder cancer. Mom died Saturday night, and this
was Monday. My father’s niece and her husband were driving 275
miles to attend the funeral, and they would be staying at the
As Dad gazed
at me, I noticed how much he seemed to have aged in the last
few weeks. And his face was covered with silvery stubble. It
was a rare morning when my father didn’t shave, but then, the
past couple of days had been far from ordinary.
know what?” Dad continued. “You always WILL miss your mother.
In fact, it won’t ever go away completely. Not even when you’re
as old as me.” Dad was 70. I was 26. I never knew Dad's mother.
She had died before I was born. Mom had been stricken with polio
in 1942 when she was 26 and paralyzed in both legs. At the time,
the doctors had told her she would never have more children.
I was born 16 years later.
funeral was over and my father’s relatives had gone home, I
found the dishtowels. Mom had put them in her dresser drawer.
Dad had been able to fix the vacuum cleaner too. But nothing
could fix the fact that my mother was gone.
in 1985, and all these years later, I realize that Dad was right
— I AM always going to miss her. But I’ve also figured out what
else he was trying to tell me on that April day so long ago
— that missing my mother keeps her alive in my heart.