Weekly letter to Mom

My mother was clued into her children. When I was 11, I asked her to take a walk one brisk February morning. She left saying, “Be sure to grease the pan and be careful of the oven,” I wondered how she knew my sisters and I were going to make her a surprise birthday cake?
The year I was 16, my parents moved away from the rolling hills of New York to the western deserts. I hate it. I wanted to go back East and live next to my cousins and grandparents. I didn’t get what I wanted. Not even after I slumped on the couch every Sunday afternoon for months, grumbling to my mother about the dumb place we lived. She said little. She said little. I eventually wore out and got involved with something besides my misery.
After a year of college, I announced I was dropping out to marry. I listened as I countered my father’s objections and realized I was serious. She talked with Dad one night. The next day he gave his blessing.
The first year of marriage I lived a thousand miles away from home and did not have a phone. I wore out the ribbon on my manual typewriter writing to my mother. When my husband came home from work carrying the mail, I don’t which I was happier to see: Him or the letters from Mom.
My mother was the family news center. Every letter she wrote included something about each of her five children and, as they came along, her grandchildren. Her letters were neatly typed and copied, reflecting her many years of office work.
Mine, sent to my audience of one, were three pages of single spaced type cluttered with typographical errors. When I finally got a phone, we began calling each other on the weekends and continued writing to each other.
A couple decades after I dropped out of college to marry, Mom called one Saturday to say the doctor had just discovered she was in an advanced stage of cancer.
Two operations and chemotherapy afforded her one year to say her good-byes.
The weekend of her death we had two birthdays, a garage sale, overnight company and were preparing to send one son on a summer mission trip. It was not a good time for death to pay a visit – it came anyway.
After we got the phone call, one birthday child exploded, “Grandma died on my birthday, I am not going to talk with her ever again.”
“I don’t think that will be a problem,” I said while silently agreeing, grandma’s death at 60 was an outrage.
It took me a long time to quit thinking it was her when the phone rang on Saturday mornings. Several times I caught myself sorting through mail looking for her familiar handwriting. I sat in front of the computer with amusing stories about her grandkids and realized I had no one to read them.
About a year after she died, I began writing this column. It’s not quite the same as writing home to mom. I compact three pages into one in exchange for a lot more people cued into me and my family – and the editor makes it look so neat.