Our mom passed away in 2006. I know it’s been more than four years since she died, but sometimes it still hurts as though we lost her yesterday. I’ve even caught myself grabbing the phone, wanting to call and share something with her that the kids did. I miss her.
During thunderstorms we would sit outside on the porch wrapped in a blanket. She loved the smell of rain and loved the wildness of the storms. Storms in Idaho weren’t as wild as the ones she’d endured as a child in South Dakota, but from the way she always started thinking about her childhood, I knew that’s what it reminded her of. I loved being near her, feeling her warmth under the blanket, feeling my heart slow down from its normal racing, my breathing slow almost to a sleeping state. Calm. In the midst of a raging storm I had my most peaceful moments with her.
When I was little and we lived out in the middle of nowhere on the outskirts of Reno and she didn’t even have a driver’s license, I would sit and watch her. She was always painting something, or decorating something—beautifying. But when it rained, she would put a big bucket outside and catch the rainwater and then wash my hair in it. She would lay me up on the long counter to the right side of the kitchen sink, and she would scoop all of my long hair down into the sink and wet it down and massage my scalp and wash my hair and then rinse it with the rainwater. It would always smell so good afterward, and she would brush it out until it was shiny.
I loved the nights. Dad was always gone until 3 or 4 in the morning, working the routes. We were alone together a lot. Sometimes, she would get lonely at night and she would let me sleep with her. I would climb up into her bed and snuggle right up against her. She would wrap her leg around me and pull me close and we would both sleep soundly. I could feel her heart beat softly against me and the warmth of her body around me. I could even smell her. She always smelled like Caress soap.
Sometimes someone would come over to get a haircut. Before I was born, she’d been a beautician. When they came to her, she would always smile –it is such a beautiful smile—and would gladly welcome them into our home. I would sit at the table and watch her work. Haircuts lasted from fifteen minutes to two hours, depending on the person. I am not sure, thinking back, how many people actually needed haircuts when they came over. What they needed was time with her. She was like a counselor, a friend, a priest, an adviser…whatever was troubling you when you came there weighed less on you when you left. It was the same service she offered to me throughout my adult years, and what I miss the most.
I don’t cut anybody’s hair but my own, and I am not very good at that. I try to help people when I can, but I’m often to opinionated and determined to have things my way to be of much help to people. But I sit on the front porch with my kids when it storms, and I curl up around them at night and cuddle with them every night. I wash my daughter’s hair in the kitchen sink—I’ve even used rain water once or twice. And I talk about my mom. I talk about her the way she used to talk to me about her mom and grandma. I talk about her to keep her with us, to make sure my kids remember, to honor her. Oh how I miss her.