Some holes can’t ever be filled

Published 11:00 pm Friday, May 10, 2013

Where you used to be, there is a hole in the world, which I find myself constantly walking around in the daytime and falling into a night. I miss you like hell.

I probably stumbled over Edna St. Vincent Millay’s words a dozen times or more without really attaching any significance or meaning to them at all.

Then, there was January 14, 1995.

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My mother died on that day and those words have been constantly with me since that cold, icy morning. That day when I lost the person who loved me most of all.

Oh, I’ve learned the hard lessons of living around a hole in my life. At times, I move gingerly. Other times I dance and then there are times when I fall into the pit of dark sadness.

But Mama wouldn’t want me to do that. She would want me to go right on with my living and just think of her every now and then.

Well, I can go on with my living, but think of her only now and then? No. Not a single day goes by that I don’t think of Mama. Something she said, something she did. The way she lived her life and the way she loved her family. The way she loved me.

And, when I think about it and dwell on it, those are the times that I miss her most of all because those are the times when I realize that I could have done more, been more, loved more, listened more, known more and had more to remember.

Some wise one once said that you never know your parents as people, only as parents.

There’s much truth to that.

See, parents never really reveal their hopes and dreams to their children. They keep their hurts and heartaches to themselves to spare them. They shield them from their worries, their shortcomings and their failures. Parents provide a safe harbor for their children as they ride out the storms of life.

To help me get through this dark time, I got out a box of old pictures and, going through them, I realized how much of Mama I knew through that little girl in the box.

Mama had a younger sister, a pretty, prissy little sister who could do no wrong.

One day, young teen Eleanor and some of her friends took off in a car and wrecked it outside of town. Word came back about the wreck but no one knew about injuries.

My grandmother was in hysterics over her little darling. She was crying, wringing her hands and walking the floor.

Mama went out on the porch and looked down the street and saw her sister prissing up the sidewalk. She ran and met her, threw her down on the pavement and beat the living daylights out of her.

I always loved that story. I could just see Mama, with her fiery temper flaring. And, she had one. I saw it many times.

Then, there was the story that made my heart hurt and made me love my mama so much more and in such a tender way.

Mama was in the first-grade and the children were having their school pictures taken. Her family didn’t have much money and her sweater had a big hole in the elbow. She was ashamed to have her picture taken in a ragged sweater. So she crossed her arms and held her hand over the hole so no one could see it.

Mama always seemed so sad when she told that story.

I thought about how much that hole in the sleeve of her old sweater hurt her and how easily she covered it. But, when she took her hand away, the hole was still there and so was the hurt.

And, that’s the way it is with the hole in my life. I can walk around it, even dance around it in wonderful memory. But, when I look back, the hole is still there and will be as long as I live.

To borrow a quote from the late Lewis Grizzard, “Hug your mama today. I sure wish I could hug mine.”