Thursday, November 16, 2006

When you least expect it

My mother died nine years ago last spring. As I think (believe, hope) is common, I sometimes panic that I'm forgetting everything about her. I struggle sometimes to remember even the sound of her voice; I can bring it back most easily when I picture her on the phone in our kitchen, talking to her own mother, with her Southern accent more pronounced than usual. I try to keep Mom somewhat present in our family -- I talk about her relatively frequently with WonderGirl, and my clumsy attempts to answer her early questions about death have resulted in WonderGirl's firm idea that my mom is underground, playing games with other people who have died, such as the father of one of her preschool teachers.

I'm always grateful when something brings up unexpected memories of Mom. It helps to stem the tide of forgetting, or more precisely, the tide of worrying about forgetting.

I'm wearing tights today, and I noticed in the full-length mirror in my department's bathroom that there's a hole in the heel and a run up the back. Instantly, it reminded me of one of Mom's projects: collecting old hose and tights with holes and runs. She'd read somewhere that they made perfect stuffing for home-made throw pillows, so for months? years? she and I dutifully saved our dead hose in a drawer. When there was finally enough nylon/cotton volume collected, we eagerly zipped it into a pillowcase and created what would always be known in our house afterwards as The Pillow of Death. Given that Mom was a math teacher, and was all about real-world math problems and everyday estimation, we should have already guessed that a throw-pillow's worth of pantyhose weighs approximately 71 pounds. Although never proudly displayed on the couch, we kept that pillow in the den anyway, tucked away, our secret weapon in case of enemy invasion.

I remember that.

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