My mother died 23 years ago on Mother’s Day, which was May 8 in 1983. Last night a friend asked me if I miss her, and it occurred to me that she has been gone for half of my life and for virtually all of my independent adult years.
When I was very young, my parents had friends who, once in a while, would stop by for an hour or two of coffee and conversation at our kitchen table. Some were distant relatives who came from a town or two south of us; some were former neighbors from the trailer park who had moved into houses. Some later passed away while my parents were still alive, including two who were killed in a car accident; others have passed on since one or the other of their deaths; a few are still alive. That period of time, while only a brief part of my early life, made an impression — my mother’s interest in every car that came around our corner, the fuss when it proved to be a familiar one as it was parked in front of or next to the trailer, the coffee brewing and the cookies coming out, and the cacophony of friendly conversation.
There was a time when I used to imagine living near enough to my parents to see them once or twice a week. I would visit them, and they would visit me. We would sit around our respective kitchen tables or watch TV in the living room. We would drink coffee. I would have to make it just the way my dad liked it, or he would complain grumpily, even refuse to come back. We would have to watch his TV programs. If “nothing good” were on, my mother might want to watch a Buffalo Sabres hockey game. She would not admit it, but she liked the drama of the fights.
It did not happen. My mother died a month before I graduated from college, and I did not return to western New York. I did visit my father twice a year when he moved to Pennsylvania in 1987, but he lived independently for only a short time before moving himself to an assisted living facility there. It was not the same as in my daydream.
I never sat at the kitchen table, drinking coffee with both my parents as an adult, as an equal, so that would have the opportunity to learn about, know, and appreciate each other.
That is what I miss.