Today is my momma’s birthday. (I said, “Won’t you stay with me till you’re 85?” And she said, “Yes.” But that didn’t happen.)
I am a writer because she said, “You are a natural.”
I am a reader because our house was full of books.
I love words because, when I was little, Mom memorized poetry with my sister and me. (Our first poem, when I was very little, was Omar Khayyam:
Here with a Loaf of Bread beneath the Bough,
A Flask of Wine, a Book of Verse — and Thou
Beside me singing in the Wilderness —
And Wilderness is Paradise enow.)
There are things I learned because of her, too.
I learned how to forgive.
I learned how to serve.
I learned some crap just doesn’t matter.
(It’s been a year and I can still hear the way she said my name. Her voice, low in the night, calling me from the other room. “Carol? Where am I?” “You’re home, Mom.” “Home?” “Yes, Momma. You’re home.”)
Truly I had less than fifteen years with her because of choices she and I made.
That night or so before she left. All the words were gone. The voice. The songs.
The harmonies and sense of humor and the ability to read or even hold a novel. The skill to swallow or stand or keep her head up. (But, she reached for me when she heard my voice.
“Are you ready to go?” I said. A nod. “Are you sure?” A nod. I won’t be able to bear it, I thought, but I said, “Okay, Momma.”)