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Calendar days mark the loss

Funny thing about holidays.

They’re times of celebrations and family gatherings and frolics with friends. But it’s not the holidays that are so deeply noted in our hearts. No. It’s those days on the calendar that mark the loss of a loved one.

Mama died on Jan. 14, 1995. She would have been 76 years old the next day. So, those two days, January 14 and 15, are days that are most prominent on my calendar and most noted in my heart.

There’s always a bitter sweetness to those days. Memories of Mama bring sweetness to the days. The loss of her cloaks them in soft sadness.

Whoever said that time heals all things had evidently not lost their mama. Time plays tricks on you. Sometimes, the loss is not as great as at other times. There are times when it swallows you. And, other times the lapse moves you so far from the loss that there’s little emotion except the anger that boils within you.

This year, I got mad that Mama was no longer here.

It didn’t seem quite right.

Mama was so comfortable at that time of her life. She was working at an antiques shop a few days a week and enjoyed getting to talk with the people who came in. She was playing a little golf and watching her “soaps” and Wheel of Fortune. She worked crossword puzzles and the daily crypto quote. She spent time talking on the telephone and sitting around with Grace and Noah at Black’s Grocery. She like picking up pecans and cooking for all of us. Just the simple things of life. To me, that’s a gift … to enjoy the simple things of life.

Mama said she started praying when she got up in the morning and didn’t stop until she went to sleep at night. She would laugh and say that she worried God about things that worried her. Daddy always said, if Mama didn’t have anything to worry about, she would go next door and borrow something, so that’s the reason that she was on the prayer line all the time.

Mama enjoyed life. She laughed a lot and she made us laugh. She had an observation for everything, and every day of my life I will repeat things that Mama used to say.

I never walk in a department store that I don’t hear Mama’s words. “They could give everybody in here something and still have a store full.”

Every time we would go out of town, when we got home, she would say, “Well, we’re back on the same day we left.” And we usually were, because Mama didn’t want dark to catch her away from home.

Mama never believed that a man walked on the moon. Every full moon, I’m reminded of her. She would look up at the moon and say, “Now you can’t tell me that a man’s ever been way up there.”

I smile at most all memories of Mama. But then there are times when the loss of her is overwhelming. When I drive up to her house in the late afternoon, and I don’t see her in the kitchen window, tears fill my eyes. When I look across the church and don’t see her sitting in her pew and, when I hear the whistle of a teakettle, it’s a little more than I can stand.

I got up mad on Wednesday morning and stayed that way most of the day. Mad because Mama had been taken from us. Sad because I missed her so much and lonely because she was not here to share the happiness of the first birthday of her great-grandson.

Luke Caldwell was born on Jan. 14, 2008, the same day of the year that Mama died. How she would have loved that little fellow. And, she would have cherished the opportunity to bake and decorate his first birthday cake, and she would have worried because he was running around with no shoes on and “sure as peas to be sick.”

She would have laughed and fussed and said things in ways that we would always remember.

She should have been there.

On Mama’s birthday, I stood at the cemetery and thought of something Sheila Kay Adams wrote in her book, “My Old True Love.”

As Arty’s husband Zeke was leaving her to go fight in the Civil War, she said, “There’s never been a place as empty as the one he stepped out of.”

I know that kind of emptiness because there’s never been a place as empty as the one that Mama “stepped out of.”

Jaine Treadwell can be reached via email at jaine.treadwell@troymessenger.com.