Thursday, November 20, 2014

Dear Mom

To send a letter is a good way to go somewhere without moving anything but your heart.  
Phyllis Theroux


November 20, 2014
Austin, TX

Dear Mom,

I know it's been a long time since I've written to you. No particular reason other than I couldn't. But today, while walking, I thought of some things I needed to tell you. So here you go.

Four days ago on the 16th, it was your birthday. You turned 89. Funny, but in my mind you don't look a day over 85.

Been working on getting my body back in some kind of shape. I started this week. Four for four so far. The YMCA on Monday and Wednesday. Long walks on Tuesday and Thursday. Three miles each day. I'm slow, but I get there.

My knee, that stupid knee isn't so good. Last year at this time, I couldn't walk to the end of the driveway. Not that I walked all that well three years ago either, but back then it was my foot and, now, with the exercises I do, both knee and foot are operating at a much better capacity without too much pain. How I wish I'd inherited your feet rather than Dad's. And, oh, how I wish I hadn't let that horse wipe my knee off on that gate so many, many years ago. Meniscus be damned.

So, I'm more physically fit since last you saw me, yet haven't really dropped any weight. I'm certain you would remind me of that if you were here.

"I just can't get used to seeing you fat."

Hmm, thanks Mom.

"Don't wear that dress ever again. It makes you look like a sausage."

Got it, Mom.

Making a concerted effort in that vein, Mom. Have the food part down, most of the time. Just need to keep up with the exercise and give up a lot of that wine I love so much. Wine, that's my downfall.

"You're turning into a wino."

Yes, Mom. It's those girlfriends of mine. They make me do it.

Vices. Weekend wine and staying up late. I thank you for that one. I do enjoy the quiet of the night. 

All is well with the kids. Everyone out on their own and financially independent. All happy at the present time. Can't ask for more than that.

Bob considering retirement in a couple years. May the gods be with me on that one.

Planning a trip. Contemplating how many years left for adventure travel as opposed to meandering around the country in the car, with a tent. (And a very nice air mattress.)

Quit substitute teaching (my heart just wasn't in it anymore and the pay was so good, you know. No Substitute Teacher Union in Texas!)

Trying to get my house and writing space in order.  Organizing my writing files to figure out where the hell I am in that venture. Lessening the stack in my To Be Read pile. Oh, the books we could discuss! And, Outlander. Outlander is on TV and they cast it so well and ...

yeah.


Every so often I allow myself time to consider what I miss most about not having you here, but that moment pretty much stops right away. I still can't do that for I feel you are with me. Beside me.

AND!!! I hear you in my head, all the time.

When I'm cooking. "Put some salt in it, for God's sake."

When I'm working in the garden and chopping the tough Texas soil with my trowel, I recall the first garden space you gave me for my very own. (Rich, black Minnesota soil that I now have to pay out the ass for in Texas, in a plastic bag.) "Gently spread the roots of each plant before planting."  I recall my planting of verbena, snapdragons and pansies. So plentiful I cut them everyday to bring to our neighbors.

When I'm sitting on the end of the dock, watching the water. Contemplating. Quiet. Remembering grace.

When I'm rowing at the YMCA. The rowing machine is very easy for me and I'm reminded how you could row a boat for hours. Hours I sometimes wanted to be somewhere else as you continued down the lake rather than back where we started. Even into your 80's you could row.

Not as much fun to sit on a machine grasping the pulley and going nowhere with a view of the wall in front of me, but I think of you.

Must be some kind of muscles in our arms intrinsic to Eklund women. Your mother who rowed out to fish. "Poor little fishies," as she ripped the hook out of their mouths, her fishing string ready for the next baiting and toss off the rowboat.



You, rowing for hours.



Me, thinking it is too easy for me, that I need to move onto the spin bike.  But I like the ease of the motion, recalling the oars gracefully entering the water. Pulling the surface water away, gently or vigorously depending on the waves.  Back turned to the bow, not certain of the destination, but going slow enough that the course was easily altered. The peace restored by the simple motion of using one oar to regain the proper course.

Today, while walking, my IPhone played a rather eclectic mix. I either swayed down the road to In The Mood or laughed through The Book Of Mormon soundtrack or strutted to Stevie Wonder or sang along with Robert Earl Keen.

Then Bring Him Home from the Les Miserables soundtrack played and tears ran down my face as the houses I passed blurred in my vision. Tremendous regret came over me for not having watched Les Miserables with you the last time you were here. You brought the DVD to the lake and with all the goings on out there -- the people coming and going -- we never got to it. I saw it on PBS a few months after you died. I cried when I listened to the beautiful music. How could I not have seen it before? How I would have loved crying with you while watching it.

Instead, I wept with  myself while I twisted my way through the neighborhood. Saddened that you won't ever know that I now love it as you did.

I don't want to think of what I might also regret. I'm too thankful for having had you.

I'm off to buy a pair of boots. My favorite thing as you know, shopping. How I wish I could just order a pair online while sitting on my bed. We're headed to NYC to see your youngest grandson on Christmas Day. Need something warm for my feet and I'm thinking my hiking boots won't suffice at Ian's fancy restaurant. Haven't bought a pair of dress boots in a hundred years. Don't know if I ever have. Frye boots when I was in college. Remember those? All the rage back then.

Not in style boots this time.  Oh, to not have Dad's bad feet.

All for now. Will write again soon. If I can.

Love,
Julie

28 comments:

  1. Oh, this broke my heart a little. Warmed it, too.
    She sounds pretty incredible, guess the apple fell close to the tree.

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    1. I suppose it did in regard to that apple. However, I believe she was much more intelligent than me.

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  2. The part about the rowing is so grand. You got me with it.

    Also: I row and use the spin bikes at the Y. I am Not Thin. I like lotsss of wine. I have a mother who doesn't love my body. I put my hands in Minnesota soil. I listened to "Bring Him Home" three times today and cried.

    I guess what I mean to say is this: Hi, friend.

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    1. I love you, Jocelyn. Will you move next door to me?

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  3. I still dream of those I have lost, funny how their age is lowered. I have outlived spouse, parents , siblings,aunts and uncles. The charm is how you see others in yourself.

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    1. "The charm is how you see others in yourself."

      I love that. So gentle.

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  4. What a sweet letter to your mom. Mine is over there with here, too, and I still talk to mine inside my head as well. A lovely letter filled with gratitude. :-)

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    1. Thank you, DJAN. Lovely response. Hope all is well up in the Pacific Northwest.

      Julie

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  5. Beautiful letter. I think she knows it all and sends you letters during the day too--in the form of songs, music, and little reminders you find along your way. Hugs to you.

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    1. I love the idea that she sends me letters and the like all day. I like that a lot.

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  6. Lovely letter....I miss visiting your mom's blog.

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    1. I do too. Fun for me though to go back and read some of my own. I read her comments and it brings here back to me so well.

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  7. We should all write to our moms, and more often. I'm writing to my brother right now; he's probably happier with letters than with the phone calls to drop all and come over and fix something.

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    Replies
    1. Hope you got that letter written. I love to receive letters and so rarely do.

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  8. I really like how you tried to keep your balance, and your sanity, reminding yourself of all the good and not so good ways your mother returns to you...a hard thing to accomplish.

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    1. Thoughtful response here. Yes, it is hard to keep that balance. Was difficult when she was alive as well.

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  9. I love that you did this. I have to agree with BB's thinking. Hugs to you.

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  10. Beautifully written, Julie. I had a vision of the entire letter as I read. Even the motherly nagging about weight and wine was a welcome addition, a testimony to the loving relationship that many mothers have with their daughters. :)
    I hope you felt better after you wrote it. Thanks for sharing it with us.

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    1. I did feel better although it wrought a very weepy day. And the day after. After a few days reflection, I feel much better. Guess it was a step.

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  11. What a wonderful idea, writing a letter to your Mom! So cathartic and it gets you practicing your writing skills again! So proud of you, Julie :)

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    1. Thank you, Becky. Perhaps tackling a tough one will make other flow a little easier.

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  12. It's the salt, in cooking as well as in writing that makes something great. Just enough truth. Just enough tears. Just enough seasoning. Sending love to you, and deep appreciation for your words and your heart. I miss your mom, too.

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  13. This puts a big old lump in my throat. I felt like I was intruding as I read. So personal and so honest. Thank you for sharing it.
    Funny the little things we remember (and regret) when someone we love dies. I'm sure your mom didn't think twice about not getting a change to watch the movie but I can see why you are sad you didn't get to see it with her. I am the same way about things like that.
    And this is a brilliant reminder to really appreciate the special people in our lives while they are here.
    Thank you for this.
    Beautiful.

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  14. Ah sweet Julie I fell in love with your mum when I read her first post. I knew right away we were going to be friends and we were. My dear friend Wanda met her first and told me about her. She was special to me - she loved the right things, wrote the right words and made me laugh out loud without even knowing she did. We would email each other about problems with our computers, books we enjoyed even her visit to Nova Scotia. Oh yes Julie she was special and an inspiration to all of us. Her age alone was inspiring as she told us her stories from her university days to visiting her husband when driving her car on winter streets. You brought tears to my eyes with your beautiful written letter but you also brought back such wonderful memories I was blessed to meet your mum through blogging and yes I love and miss her too. Big hugs sweet lady; you are so much like her <3

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  15. this should be required reading for students in geriatrics; most excellent and poignant.

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  16. Julie ....what a truly beautiful and heartwarming letter. Your mother sounded very much like mine. I think that generation was a tough bunch. Thinking of you.

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Let me know what you think. Every word you write, I appreciate.

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