I look at the woman’s (Elizabeth is her name, ironically the same as my mother’s) hands sitting next to me. Suddenly, my eyes are filled with tears. It is heavy, fast — how they fill. I think of my mother’s hands. I see my mother’s hands: her wrinkles, blue veins.
Elizabeth’s sunken patches of skin embrace me, almost strangle me with emotion. It takes me several minutes to collect myself. I’m almost ready to excuse myself from the meeting because of the hot tears.
I calm down as I write, sure not to look at her hands anytime soon.
* I wrote that in my journal two years ago. I was cleaning out a closet, procrastinating studying. I have been studying and preparing for a huge presentation/training I am doing. I thought that was a poignant journal entry and well-written if I say so myself. OK — back to procrastinating and organizing my closet.
Please click on the essay. I get paid by the unique visitors. So please share. It may be too sad for some to read (grief trigger warning), but it’s one of my best pieces of writing. It’s also the story about my mom dying. She literally died on the phone with me. I think most of you know that as she passed on Christmas Eve two years ago. I even was a Debbie Downer and posted it on Facebook when she died (sorry, my mom dying trumps Santa pix).
Check out Mamalode — “America’s best parenting magazine” — Lisa Stone, CEO of BlogHer, while you are on the site (after you read my essay of course). Talk about audience. It’s an authentic magazine about motherhood. Heck, they are sending a wooden minivan (yes, a real one) around Missoula, Montana and asking moms and dads to write down things they want to let go of and they are going to light it on fire. I wish I could attend that bonfire. All non-Missoula folks can email their shit in. I plan on it. I am letting go of guilt and shame this year (and trying to let go of unrealistic expectations, although those really work for me and help me be an over-achiever but it really doesn’t work for me so good).
Click and share and get some Kleenex if not for Betty leaving this world in a blaze of Christian glory. Just so you know, she was tight with Jesus. She saw him twice in her life. And Betty was never one to exaggerate. She was one to tell someone off; she just didn’t lie. She saw Jesus once when she was a little girl and once when she was “so depressed I couldn’t walk across the floor to pick up a toothpick,” in her own words. She had just had her 12th miscarriage with her first husband. So my sister and I are here miracles.
So, before this ends up a chapter and YOU are exhausted from just reading the update, click and share.
*** Note to readers: this started as a Facebook status update and I decided to post it here.
Missing this Irish man today.
He died 11 years ago in the middle of the night, technically December 11 at 4 am holding my mother’s hand. But I always feel like this is the day he died since December 10, 2003 was the last time I saw him and had to say goodbye to the father I loved for 29 years. Death sucks, but it is a part of life. Trying not to get all existential, but perhaps I should take this status update to my blog or journal. But you see I miss him. I miss him, and as grief has numbed the loss – a hole that death leaves, gaping in concave fragments of the heart, a sense of longing has replaced this. This sense of missing him, knowing he is gone. I miss him.
I miss seeing the veins on his hands, crossed in a holding pattern on his lap, a cigarette always tucked puffing solo in his lips. I miss his morning silence and two cups of coffee minimum rule: “Don’t talk to me until I’ve had my coffee.”
I miss him.
I miss watching his gait, heavy to the left, limping, shifting the weight in stride to his other leg — the leg I now know had significant damage from frostbite from Korea. I miss his odd sense of humor and his incredible intelligence. I miss how he could talk to anyone. I miss his pride. I miss his pats on the back and how awkward he became when I insisted on hugging him.
I miss him.
I miss the way he could pack a car, no matter how large with flea market finds. I miss his Cuban wedding shirts. I miss his scarves which he always called mufflers and reminded me to bundle up on cold Wyoming winter nights before I left the house. I miss his anger, sometimes dark and black. I miss his garden and the flower pots he filled them with — stacked in neat rows around the brick wall around our house on Maxwell. I miss seeing him peaceful with dirt in his hands.
I miss him.
I miss the way he wrapped his shoelaces around his ankles, tying them pragmatically in double knots as an old man. I miss his grey hair comb over. I miss his kindness and Irish pride. I miss smelling Corn Beef and Cabbage every St. Patrick’s Day. I miss the strong scent of coffee in the kitchen of our home. I miss having a hell of a hard time trying to buy him the perfect Christmas gift.
I miss him.
I miss his voice and his ability to speak only when necessary in a conversation. I miss his knowledge and the statistics he could whip out on any baseball team in this century or the last. I miss that he could give the biggest compliment to me through a third person like when he told my best friend Heidi that she had to make sure I write because it is in my blood — “Make sure Megan writes; she is a writer — a journalist a poet. She is related to Percy Bysshe Shelley, you know? Make sure she writes — it is in her blood.” I miss his smile, sometimes rare and sometimes wild.
I miss him.
I miss watching him read thick books and biographies. I miss startling him if I walked up on him unexpectedly, giving me a sense he knew fear in the strongest sense of the word and I miss the sense of relief he had when he knew it was me. I miss his car — a long maroon Lincoln Continental plastered with proud Semper Fi bumper stickers.
I miss him: John Shelley Miller, my dad — the first man I ever loved.
My father and I on my wedding day (November 23, 2003)
My dad in Korea. He was a member of the Frozen Chosen who fought in Inchon in the Korean War, He is bured at Arlington Cemetery.
My dad and his friend from Korea. This man called me shortly after my father died.
My dad around Christmas time 2002 — his last Christmas
My father had a poet’s eye. I believe he took these photos on leave during the Korean War.
My dad stopping to smell the roses. This photo gives me such joy.
Fences: I send messages to my father through the birds. Cardinals deliver same day mail. My father loved cardinals and I can’t help but think he sends me messages back when they whistle by me. My yard in North Carolina is filled with cardinals. I see one weekly — at least.
My father and I on my wedding day, November 23, 2003
Photos from my wedding
Betty and John were special people. Anyone that ever met them knew this. They were storytellers and magicians. They made people feel good. Sure, like everyone they had their problems, but deep at their core, they were the pot of gold. My magic – my love.