When I was a little boy and needed an answer to the multitude of questions life threw in my path, I would ask my mother.
She was an all-knowing, mystical 8-ball in human form, I didn’t have to pick her up and shake her for a reply.
And I didn’t get “Signs point to yes,” or “Ask again later,” or “Outlook good,” as a response. I got advice on the inner machinations of the female mind, sticky social situations, manners, clothing – it didn’t really matter; my mother had an answer for virtually everything and I could never quite figure out how she got so damn smart.
But she was.
It’s evident now that she didn’t have some predictable icosahedron spinning around in that head of hers like the ubiquitous manufactured 8-ball.

It’s frightening how many questions have pig-piled their way into my brain since she got sick. They never stop coming in, a veritable hailstorm of unanswerable queries.
I get to a point these days where they get mentally filed for future processing.
There’s no other way, right now.

Last Sunday morning (the last day of my week off), Pamela and I took a ride to my mother’s grave.
It was a beautiful, crisp-as-a-new-fallen Macintosh fall day with abundant sunshine and a slight breeze, the aroma of burning leaves from someplace nearby oddly reminded me of frankincense.
We sat on the rose granite bench bearing my mother and father’s names and retreated to our own respective ‘quiet places’, both of us pondering some considerable ‘life thoughts’.
I’m thinking about the approaching winter and how I’m going to get the coal we need to stay warm. And I’m thinking about the fast approaching Christmas holiday and how we’re going to stand up to all its financial and emotional stresses.
I know Pamela is thinking the exact same thing; Christmas? . . . not again?!?
Something’s gotta give, and soon.
Pamela spotted a new gravestone off in the distance and got up to go and see it and I followed her.
It was a fairly elaborate jet black headstone with two smaller stones on each side.
This was the resting place of a 10 year-old little girl named, Victoria.

She died on December 21, 2005.

We stood there staring at the stone, both of us shedding tears for a little girl we didn’t even know, silently wondering how in God’s name her mother and father got through the holiday season and we began saying prayers . . . for all of them.
And here we were thinking we had it rough with our three beautiful, intelligent and loving daughters that we could go and hug anytime we wanted.
Damn, we were so incredibly fortunate.
We walked back to my mother’s bench and sat down taking in the endless miles of cerulean fall sky.
I couldn’t help but feel that my mother had found yet another way to give me an answer to a question I’d yet to ask.
We drove home in a very different mood. And our life was good.
We just needed to open our eyes to see it.
Thanks, Mom, for teaching me to remember to cherish all that I have . . .


12 thoughts on “8-ball

  1. it’s funny how we all think our parents were born wise isn’t it? in years to come our own children will probably say the same things about us…well, hope is sweet anyway…
    when life throws up little reality checks like this, it drives home the blessings we actually have and makes the little crap pale into insignificance…
    so many people bemoan their lives constantly {i’m just as guilty at times}, when if only they would take their poor poor pitiful me glasses off, they could see exactly how rich they are, in the ways that actually mean something…

    Couldn’t have said it better myself, Moe.
    I do like the “poor poor pitiful me glasses“.
    Pamela works in the eyeglass field so maybe she’s heard of them. 😉


  2. Moms know those things automatically. When we have children, we also get implants in our brains with all the answers.

    I’m sorry about your mom … and your dad too. I miss mine as well. I worry about all the things we worry about – christmas, how we’re gonna stay warm, when I’ll get to see my kids again – but as you say – at least we have kids, we have a place to worry about keeping warm. Many many don’t have those things….and don’t have a great many of the things we take for granted.

    Something I’m always very grateful for is water. Once, we went for about 8 months with no bathroom, no water – we did have a woods outside we used for a bathroom with a pit – and we were lucky enough to have a car that we were able to go and get water with, and we were lucky enough to have a woodstove ….

    Boy, I sure don’t wanna go back to those days.

    We have so many things to be thankful for. Every day should be thanksgiving – truly.

    Hey, peace to y’all today. Have a beautiful day and go hug whoever you got close and if you don’t have one of those – there’s people all over who need hugs.


    Remember that “online presence” I talked about? 😉
    This comment is soooo you, Ruby and I thank you.


  3. Michael.
    A few years ago..I realized I was celebrating a lot of traditional holidays just because they became a habit…and I also realized that I couldn’t afford to keep doing it. I began to hate Xmas..and Easter & Mother’s day…till I decided that I would make my own traditions.
    Now…Christmas is for kids…(for me it works..maybe not you) so I just buy for my grandkids…and of course my Mom…and I celebrate everyone’s birthday..their Special Day. That way..I don’t resent the Holidays any longer and look forward to them.
    Just my opinion. I love when you write about your mom…I guess it’s true that boys are closer emotionally to their mom’s than their dads. I do feel fortunate in having two sons. You’re right…we should be thankful for our blessings…every day! Wonderful post as usual.

    You’re wise beyond your years, Matty.
    And Christmas should just be for the kids. Period.
    Commercials on TV dictate otherwise. Thank God I don’t watch much TV.
    Thanks for the comment.


  4. My mom will be gone 11 years next week. Funny how sometimes I still think, I’m gonna call mom about this or that. Then I’m reminded that’s she’s gone.

    It is funny how and when answers come. I feel sorry for the folks that don’t realize the answers when they’re given to them.

    I think it has everything to do with being human and how busy our days are.
    Being “open” to all of it helps as well.


  5. I wish I could have a relationship with my parents the way you do with your mom. And yes, I used the present tense on purpose. You and your Mom obviously share a love that extends beyond such trivial things as Earth and life. Amazing how some of those reality checks come to us, isn’t it?


    My mom was a pretty cool lady.
    I miss talking to her every single day.
    Maybe someday when you least expect it you’ll find and understand that you do have the relationship that’s currently missing.
    That’s what hope is for . . .


  6. How do you do it? You weave such an amazing picture with your words? I pray that all the troubles of money & sorrow will someday be taken care of, but alas. If we don’t experience these things how can we be grateful for the good things in life?

    So true, so true.
    Thanks for reading, Cowgal


  7. That was very beautiful, Michael. And yes, I think your mom gave you an answer. I’ve already decided that my ashes will be kept in an urn painted with a wild psychedelic design and I will be kept on the mantle for the very purpose of being consulted on all manner of important questions, like: Q. Mom, should we change the drapes? A. Oh God, yes

    A dear friend of mine passed away several years ago and the family keeps his ashes
    in a Janis Joplin “Mercedes” cookie jar . . . –> http://www.janicewise.com/cj3060a.jpg
    Check it out.
    Not sure what I want my ashes to go into but I’m thinking a cigar box sounds about right (or a big bottle of Guinness)


  8. honestly Michael, i have to bust out the Kleenex almost every time i read.. you are so poignant and your way with words is just amazing to me. i shed a tear for that little girl too, and felt sadness and shame over my own selfishness. it’s hard at times like this, with the holidays coming, we tend to get so wrapped up in our own stresses, holiday, family… it’s things like that that touch my heart and make me realize how fortunate i am too. thanks for sharing.

    Thank you for reading and commenting so honestly.
    I appreciate it, Reg


  9. Man, you have no idea how close to home this was. I am an admitted momma’s boy and when I lost my mother in 1998 to cancer I also lost my very best friend. Her advice was just so basic and down to earth that she could make even the most complex of problems seem so trivial and easy to work out.

    My mom’s grave is close to 600 miles away from me and it has been a few years since I have visited. Your post has put the wheels in motion to go see her again.

    Very well done.

    “Wheels in motion” is a wonderful and unexpected comment on this post.
    Thanks, Grimm


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