I have thought of my parents a lot this summer. On days when it is really hot I still have to stop myself from calling to check and see if everything is okay, if the air conditioners are running and if they are cool enough. My dad liked to watch the electric bill closely so he would keep the air conditioners set on 75 degrees or more. My mom would swelter and not feel well at those temperatures, especially while she was cooking, so I would remind her to check the air conditioners and turn them down a little if she needed too, or turn on the fans.
It’s hard to think that I don’t need to check on them now, or wonder if they are okay. It’s even harder to realize that mom isn’t out tending to her garden this year, carefully watching the tomatoes, green beans, squash and greens she grew each year. This year they were not planted.
It hurts knowing that dad won’t be there to remind me to check the oil and coolant in the cars, or to make sure the tires are aired up properly. He isn’t here to grumble about the gas prices, or how much Medicare didn’t pay. He’s not grumbling about how much water is used to water the grass and garden either.
They aren’t sitting down and enjoying eating cantaloupe or watermelon this year. Mom isn’t slicing up fresh pineapple then tempting my kids to come eat it. She’s not fixing banana pudding or jello to have something cool to eat on hot days either.
I can’t bake a lemon cake for all of us to share with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, or share a cool fruit salad with them while listening to mom talk about the ladies in the church, or a book she’s been reading. I can’t listen in while dad reads the newspaper out loud and mom asks questions about the highlights of the day.
No, there is only silence and an emptiness that just doesn’t seem to go away when I think about them.
I watch people with their parents and wonder if they realize how precious each day is. No, none of us really do. I did my best to not take the days for granted, but it still doesn’t seem like it was enough. Yet, I know I never talked disrespectful to them and if they needed me I tried my best to be there to help. I am still haunted with all the things I wish I’d done, or that I could say just one more time. Still think about things that I wanted to do and lately realize things that I just plain missed along the way. It’s all the way of grief I suppose. One day at a time is how it goes. There is a large hole in my heart where they used to be, and where nothing else will ever grow, but that is just how it is.
I have started writing journals for my kids: memories, dreams, thoughts, events past and present, so that someday when I am gone perhaps the emptiness will not seem quite so empty, but will instead be filled with stories of their childhood and mine. It would never take the place of the actual person being there, but to me it would be like sitting down and having a conversation with them again and that would be really nice.
Cherry Coley ©