Sunday, September 1, 2013

Ruth Mae

I woke up, abruptly, in a cold sweat from some dream I could not and still cannot remember.  The clock read 2:30 a.m.  Five minutes later I got the call that she had passed.

What does do with oneself and that type of information at that hour?  I threw on some sweatpants and walked the half block to the beach.

The moon was high and bright and it led me close to the shoreline.  There, I wrote her name in the sand and her years, like bookends of her life.  Temporary, fleeting, waiting for the tide.

A week later I was asked to speak at her memorial.  I had no idea and too many ideas of what to say.  I am not new to writing and delivering eulogies but I really endeavored to get this one right.

“When I was a little girl, Mom Mom and I would travel into the City for our Annual Christmas Adventure.

We'd board the R5 and take it to Reading Terminal.  The trains and the train house were so big to me.  Larger than life.  Mom Mom would grasp my hand and lead me down the train steps and off to Broad Street.

Hand in hand, we strolled to the Academy, going to see 'The Nutcracker'.  The tall buildings and noisy traffic was a lot to a 5 year-old.  But her hand was a reassuring presence.

After the final curtain call, we'd walk to Wannamaker's for lunch in The Crystal Tea Room and then to see the light show.  One year, Mom Mom must have wandered off to the hat department.  When the light show ended, I panicked.  Running from grown-up legs to grown-up legs, until I found her.  She held my hand and took me back to The Terminal.

Mom Mom always held my hand.

When I was young and scared; when a boyfriend didn't work out; when we were kneading dough – we held hands.

We held hands when we kept vigil as my mother was dying.  She held my hand.

As we both got older, it was me holding her hand more and more.  Helping her navigate uneven sidewalks or in and out of the car.  She relied on me to steady her.

One of Mom Mom's favorite songs was by Bobby McFerrin.  I had once bought her a big, red sweatshirt as a gift.  It said,

'In every life, we have some trouble, when you worry, you make it double.
Don't worry, be happy.'”

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