At 4:32 a.m. on May 11, 2001, my mother passed from this world into the next. It was a Friday that year, too. There has not been a day since that I have not missed her. I am fortunate to be surrounded by some of her things, and I’m grateful to have her lingering energy in my presence.
Yesterday I was in my backyard and found one single ripe blackberry – weeks before it should be ripe. Mama always made a point of picking blackberries for me when I would visit in the summer, because she knew how much I loved them. I picked it by stepping over the wild violets that sprang up in my backyard the first year I lived here and have flourished – wild violets like my mother loved, and transplanted underneath the big maple tree in her yard.
Later in the day I went to a local market and for the first time happened to notice they carry the coconut candy my mother enjoyed. Mama loved coconut – coconut candy, coconut pie, coconut bon bons Sears sold from glass cases when I was young, and fresh coconut when she could get it. Maybe at this time of year in particular I’m just more aware of these reminders, or maybe at this time of year they’re just more plentiful. Regardless, I’m thankful for them. I think of her every day without any reminders, but they’re nice nonetheless.
Mama did her best to raise me well, but it was not a task she sought. I was one of those accidental pregnancies, more than two decades after her other children were born. She already had grandchildren when she found out she was pregnant with me – not a situation many people seek. I was incredibly lucky to have the benefit of her wisdom that had been gained with age.
I always felt my presence was a burden to her. Who knows how her life might have been different if I hadn’t been born. Life offers so many twists and turns. We can’t possibly foresee how things will turn out, and how they might have been different but for one small choice.
During the second world war, when my brothers were small, my parents moved to Detroit. Although they lived there only a few years, when Mama spoke of it I could tell it was a good time in her life. What prompted them to go in the first place? Or leave? I don’t have all those answers. Their lives would have certainly been different if they’d continued living there. I might not be here. We just never know those things.
We all make a million decisions – large and small – in our lives, that have far-reaching effects. And we are all mysteries, even to those who love us.