Never the same

May 19, 2014

blog_judy_coolsMoonlighting, a blog by Judy Cools.

It’s been a tough couple of weeks in the Cools household.  It peaked on Mother’s Day when the world lost a wonderful woman, and heaven gained an angel: my husband’s mom.  We knew her health was in decline, but the turn was sudden and in about 36 hours, she was gone.

As you must know if you’ve ever lost someone, the loss brings up all sorts of thoughts that you likely wouldn’t think if not for the hole newly carved in your heart.  We think of what we’ll always remember about her.  We wonder what others remember about her.  We fret over the nuances of her that will be lost over time.  We wonder what our children will take away as their memories.  We wonder, too, what our children will remember of us.

In a lifetime of memories (I joined the family when I was just 19) there are a few I know will stay with me.  It was my mother-in-law who was astonished that I didn’t have a “laundry stick” and charged her son with the task of making sure I got one straightaway.  It’s only a broomstick, cut off to about 2 feet long, and embellished with a cord to hang it.  Essential, she claimed, for poking the clothes down in the washing machine.  Stirring clothes you were color-dyeing.  Checking to see if there was sufficient water in the washer.  She was right.  I still use my original laundry stick from that day.

Another time, she admonished me for not making the bed.  She said there would be days, between kids and jobs and keeping the house, when I would feel I got nothing done at all, but I could tuck in for the night, warm in the knowledge that “at least I made the bed.”  She was right.

I’ll remember her patented potato salad with the pink mayonnaise.  The dollops of peanut butter that made regular brownies into peanut butter brownies.  The cookie jar that always had Oreos in it.

She taught me how to pencil my eyebrows.  She knew tricks about keeping the dryer from messing up the clothes while they were drying.  She saved containers like crazy.  And bags.  And bows.  She always made sure that her outfit and Dad’s were color-coordinated when they went out together.

It still seems unreal.  We want to phone her.  We think about “when she gets back”, and then stumble over the reality that…. yeah… she isn’t coming back.  Except for a troubled few, we don’t choose our own time to die.  That Mom died on Mother’s Day seems fitting because she was a mother figure to so many.  Mother, wife, sister, classroom tutor, she was always the teacher, always trying to make things fair; she often tried to mend fences and build bridges and bring people together.

The gift for all of us is that she didn’t linger in intense pain with her medical conditions.  She always knew who we were, right to the end.  Sharp wits and a sense of humor – not bad for 88 years old.  Mother’s Day will never be the same.

© 2014, J. L. Cools


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