Here is Sunday’s Designated Hitter column from The Sanford Herald. Sorry I went off the usual sports rails here, but my heart is elsewhere this weekend. Fear not, by Monday I’ll be cursing the Cubs with daily regularity again.
Here’s the column:
My mother passed away suddenly three years ago on this day.
Two days earlier, she had called me at work to chat after the Carolina Hurricanes’ game in the Stanley Cup Finals. It was the last time I spoke to her, but it was a phone call that ended with us exchanging “I love yous”, so that part’s OK. I can live with that memory. I know others aren’t so lucky.
Still, it’s been three years. And a lot has happened in three years.
Mom’s only grandchild will finish kindergarten on Wednesday. In 6-year-old Allison’s delightful scrapbook covering her first year of school, put together by her wonderful teacher with the same tender care she had for every one of her students’ scrapbooks, there is a picture of Grandma. Allison’s magical mother sent it in with other family photos at the beginning of the school year, and Allison got to write the caption.
“Grandma loves me from Heaven.”
Yes, she does, Alli-Bug. Yes, she does.
Know, little girl, that she’s seen everything, too.
Your first soccer practice, bundled up against the bitter wind, but standing out with those pink cleats.
Your first goal, following that slow and steady roll as the ball crept inside the right post in the last minute of the last game of your first season.
Your rendition of “Blue Moon Of Kentucky”, complete with cowboy boots, bandana and hat, at the Lee County Fair.
The part in the Christmas play at church.
The part in the kindergarten Christmas play.
And everything in between. And everything else.
It is my hope that Allison will always remember that short line she wrote back in August, a sentence she wrote before she could really read, but a sentence she was reminded of again upon receiving her memory book on Friday.
I get the feeling that she will. Allison, who handled the moment three years ago better than anyone, still has times when I can tell she’s reminiscing, times that her little voice will crack and her eyes will cast toward the floor and the words finally seep out.
“I miss Grandma.”
Frankly, this is a good moment. While it’s unbearably sad, it is also the very definition of bittersweet. She misses Grandma because she remembers Grandma. Thank God for that.
May and June are tough months for me. Mother’s Day is tempered a bit because Allison and I get to celebrate the incredible mother she has. But Mom’s birthday was in May, and there’s the lasting memory of Mom going on and on with family and friends about the great Memorial Day weekend she shared with us just two weeks before she was gone. June is hard because of today, and because my parents’ anniversary also falls during this month.
Allison pays these things no mind, and in there, I guess, is yet another lesson my little girl can teach me. When the tender moments of memory hit her, they can come from anywhere.
But the same can be said about me, and for my dad, for Mom’s sisters and brother, and for my lovely wife. I watched the Hurricanes hoist the Stanley Cup in my living room with my aunt, from Denver, sitting across from me. The only reason she was in town was because her beloved sister had just passed away.
And so the stupid Stanley Cup Finals can nearly break me. I’m afraid they always will. And there are so many other little things that can trigger the deepest emotions. I imagine it’s the same for everybody who’s lost a loved one.
It’s something you have to learn to live with.
Like Allison has.
I just wish I could’ve written it as well as she did.