It’s Mary Jane Day. That isn’t as medicinal as it may sound. But it is for my soul a little. It’s that day we all know what’s on the menu in my family. Mom’s birthday. I don’t know exactly when I started honoring my mom’s birthday with one of her favorite food groups, The Cheeseburger, but it’s been a long time now and most of my siblings also partake, with no lettuce to be seen anywhere. There will also be a little sundae or something. Because that’s the Mary Jane way.
This summer, in the hated month of August, it will be 21 years since Mom left us. It’s still so hard to believe it, and while I believe she travels with me daily, I do almost miss the early morning phone calls. The phone was her weapon of choice, and she used it liberally. But she had to, her health limited her on travel, and she hadn’t driven a car in many years, in fact I had never in my life seen her behind the wheel. That was her way of being with us when we couldn’t be there to see her.
I wish she had lived long enough to be a part of video calls. That would have been a hoot. A lot of elderly people have learned to navigate the technology well enough to really enjoy the Zooms and stuff. I can imagine MJ almost getting it, but not quite. She lived in assisted living the last few years of her life, so someone would have been around to help her out, but it sure makes me smile to think of her on the Zooms my family has on Thursday nights.
I think of her with a cell phone too. She was landline locked and loaded, but imagine the phone terrorist capabilities she would have had with a cell phone. I like to think she would have been a flip phone type, so as to minimize butt dialing. Mom would have figured out a way, but it could have cut it down a little. She was a smart person, she could have figured out the technology enough to wake us all up early on a Saturday. Get her playing a game or two on the phone and maybe a Facebook and Instagram. Mary Jane would have been marvelous, I have no doubt.
Some of my friends have lost their moms in the past year or so. We are that age where it is more normal for life to take that path. We were young when we lost Ed, and then Mary Jane 10 years after him, I was 30 when she died. I have tried to tell my friends that while they will always miss their mom, that time does make it better, it will hurt less. There are so many stages to that grief process, and some days it feels like it follows the chart, other days it feels like you just took the phone call with the news again. Waves, like the ocean, will come and go. I am no expert, I have just been a part of it all for a really long time. I have started to encourage them to do the things I do- honor their memory by doing something they loved. For my mom, it’s a cheeseburger no lettuce, fries, a Coke and little sweet treat. It’s a whole thing now. And for that little while, it’s like sharing the meal with her again. I mean, you are still going to miss her, but this way you justify eating something you probably shouldn’t. I am forever grateful my mom was not a vegetarian.
Happy Birthday Mom, I will pop in my Mamas and Papas cd, get after that cheeseburger, no lettuce, and smile thinking of how popular you were, like Orville Redenbacher. It’s your day, not mine, and I will spend it trying not to be sad, but celebrating the good things of your life, not the other stuff that made it hard and expedited your departure from our lives. Your path was not really what it should have been, but it did bring this family into existence, and today we feast on Cheeseburgers, and leave the lettuce to the bunnies!! Cheers, with a Coca Cola!!