8-ball

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 . . .

~m

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