A Love Letter to my Mom

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The month of March has passed. Although its one of my least favorite months of the year, it is the month of my beloved mother’s passing. And with that, it beckons me to pay attention to things like being patient;  (winter takes it sweet time to say goodbye to us, doesn’t it? Like the boyfriend or houseguest that just won’t go, I am easily aggravated by Winter’s insistent snapping and biting temperament. Lingering (from unwanted presences) is an aggravation, offering nothing other than “fuel to the [proverbial] fire.”  But I ask her, my strong, insistent, beautiful, fire-y, funny, mother to linger in my soul, be a spiritual presence in my life, and unlike Old Man Winter, I beg of you to stay, just stay a little longer.  Linger, a little longer.

The following is a “love letter” I wrote to my mother, Alice Mae Salas, in 2004. I was living in South Africa. "The Beamer" to which I refer in this letter is the webcam system we used to "face time" each other.

Dear Mom,

This weekend I re-read the play, Our Time, by Thornton Wilder. I saved it, put it out on the table as a reminder that the next time I see you that our first order of business will be to sit right close to each other and read this play aloud together over a cup of tea. But I don't want to wait that long to to explain to you why it struck me as deeply as it did. Seems that all that I read, touch, see, and think about these days has recurring themes of courage, love, strength, & family. Interesting. Guess it's God's way of reassuring me that all will be well as we move through this rather dramatic transition.

*Oh, by the way, I can't stop thinking about our reaction to one another when we talked last night via "The Beamer." That moment of seeing you wave took my breath away. Then, I waved back. I saw your face hold all the joy and sadness in the world, all at once. It made me cry. It was so wonderful to share those few moments with you. I "caught your wave" like someone catches a blown kiss. It's in my pocket, next to my heart. You're near. Rick ask me why it was so upsetting, so emotional....my response would not have been understood. Let's leave well enough alone, I thought. Anyway, "The Beamer" seems to add to the pain of our distance instead of doing its rightly job of taking it away. But I do believe that we realized in those heartfelt waves that that little machine keeps us close for now. Soon, I will be home for an extended visit. I'll be home to see you and Dad...and just think, I might even be pregnant! All that we have to share in the coming months is very exciting, isn't it? Maybe you'll be making a trip to SA, too. With a little luck it may work out that you will have a chance to travel in your lifetime, too. What a treat for us both if that comes to pass. I would love nothing more.

But I digress…the emotion associated to our electronic wave relates to the moment in Our Town that I want to share with you. The passage made me realize how wonderful you are, what a wonderful teacher of life you have been. I have learned the life lessons highlighted in this play from YOU. I see the way I see because of YOU.

Read these gorgeous words from the play:

It's like what one of those Middle West poets said: You've got to love life to have life, and you've got to have life to love it.

Oh, and here's the part I REALLY loved. In Act 3, Mrs. Webb's daughter, Emily, dies at the age of 22 due to childbirth complications. She's come back to earth as a ghost and begs God to allow her to visit all those she once loved. She explains that she needs to see them one more time before she passes permanently to the other side. I can't write it all out, there are too many lines, but Emily chooses to return to her 12th birthday party. There she sees her mother cooking in the kitchen and comments: "I never knew my mother was so young." And then she talks about how she sees her mother laying out her party dress with a new ribbon for her hair. (Mom, thoughts of you working so hard to get me the prettiest dresses for every occasion flooded my mind).

And here's the last speech she gives before she asks to be taken back to her grave:

I can't. I can't go on. It goes so fast. We don't have time to look at one another. I didn't realize. So all that was going on and we never noticed. Take me back up to the hill—to the grave. But first: Wait! One more look.

Good-bye, Good-bye, World. Good-bye, Grover's Corner…Mama and Papa. Good-bye to clocks ticking…and Mama's sunflowers. And food and coffee. And new-ironed dresses and hot baths…and sleeping and waking up. Oh, earth, you're too wonderful for anybody to realize you.

And Mom, you are too wonderful to be realized for all that you are in THIS life. I see your eyes and your open heart and your garden, and I see you cooking my favorite meal in the kitchen. I see you. I really do.

I just waved. Catch it like a kiss.

See you soon.

All my love,
Hope