What a Year!
“Whew”, is the word I would use to describe 2015. What a roller coaster ride it was. This was truly “the” transition year of my life. Most times in life we are unaware of the transitions that occur throughout our lives. Many of them are organic growth patterns that are essential to our development as human beings. Most times we just go with the flow. We finish high school and go on to college or choose a way to make a living. We don’t think about how working or getting serious about college change us from the kids we were to the young adults we become. We begin to settle into our lives and suddenly we are 25 and completely adult. We are beginning to build our lives. Then all of a sudden we are married and learning to align ourselves alongside another human being. We don’t really stop and think about the fact that we are changing and growing and preparing for the next step life will deliver us to. I think as parents we first become aware that life has changed us. By that time we have lived long enough and worked hard enough and had enough struggle, loss, failure and success to see that we have traveled from youth to a place that we can start to gauge what sort of people we want to be. We start to think about who we want to be for our children. Life becomes more focused and purposeful. You can look back if you choose and see that some of life’s transitions have taken place.
I found myself in 2015 with some of the expected and natural transitions already planned. I looked forward to my youngest of two sons going all the way to California for college. I expected to miss him but I knew he would be happy, fulfilled and begin his journey into adulthood in a place that would nurture and prepare him for the world. I also expected this year to be a huge transition year because I would be marrying for the second time to the man of my dreams beyond dreams. He and I had shared an 8 year courtship and had already established what our future together would look like. I had to sell my home of 10 years that my boys grew up in. I had to move into my husband’s home that had already become over the years a second home for me and my boys. My eldest son was settled into college in Texas and not far from home. I looked forward to days that would be all about my sweet husband (still getting used to that word) and I just spending uninterrupted, quality time together.
But 2015 started off with my 79 year old mother passing away suddenly on New Year’s Eve morning. I was getting dressed and ready to start my day when the phone rang. I expected calls to start rolling in from my family wishing “Happy New Year” and checking in on the plans we had for getting together for dinner. A few days earlier, my mother had made a huge Christmas dinner for us all and made all our favorites. We had turkey, ham, dirty rice, candied yams, mac & cheese, potato salad and dinner rolls and the appetizer was her famous Gumbo. For some reason, my brother snapped a picture of her standing at the huge stove with the top of the Gumbo pot swung up into the air. Steam was filling the room and she grinned and posed as if she were a famous chef. My mother hated taking pictures but she went along without the usual complaints. We had a wonderful day together my two sisters, my brother, our husbands and wives and children. We come from a large family with my mom being one of 13 children. Our usual celebration with the 19 of us were small affairs compared to the times we spent with the larger family. This Christmas was small and intimate with my mother relishing all four of her children and grandchildren together. She would cook and clean until she was exhausted which took a lot of time for her. She had the energy and stamina of a woman half her age. We never saw it coming….
She planned to go to her childhood Louisiana home to spend the New Year cooking and cleaning for her siblings and their families. She was dedicated to her family. All of us. She was close to her brothers and sisters and all of their children and grandchildren. She made the trip to Louisiana at least once a month from Houston to New Roads, Louisiana where her roots were. She was a true Louisiana girl who needed the air, soil, cuisine and connections that you only find in the south. She moved to Houston to be with her youngest daughter. My mother lived with every one of her four children once they gave birth. My mother stopped working around 50 years old and came to live with each of us once we became parents. She helped to raise all 9 of her grandchildren. She went wherever she was needed. She allowed us to work and travel and take breaks from parenthood when we needed to. She was a steady presence in our lives and she remained that steady, strong, nurturing and at times powerful force that kept us all on the straight and narrow. She is missed beyond words. I am grateful that she went suddenly and without pain. She left this world like a saint. She sat in the tub and leaned back and was gone. There was no trauma or struggle. She went home to the one who made her. She could not be happier since that is what she lived her life to one-day do.
So, now as we enter 2016 I want to take a moment to say that 2015 was a year full of change and growth. It was full of great highs and began with a great low. I spent a lot of time last year moving between joy and sorrow. I had so many reasons to celebrate. I have a splendid life and she was there to see it all come together. She was there to see her boys take charge of their lives and head off to college to begin the journey. She was there to know and love my husband and welcome him into our amazing family. She was there to start the conversation about my wedding and she was so excited. She was not there in the flesh but her spirit was. I want to start 2016 by celebrating my mother and living my life to the fullest. I want to invite her to be with me through every step along the way. I want her to see all that she is responsible for creating and be so proud and joyful for the way we choose to honor her in the way we live our lives. I have a large framed photo of her that dominates my home office. My brother had the picture of her standing at the gumbo pot enlarged and framed so that all four of us would have a physical likeness of her with us every day. Her eyes speak to me through that picture and I am reminded of what a wonderful blessing I had for a mother.