Thursday, August 25, 2011

Four Years Seems Like Yesterday

Grief is a process that never ends.

Four years ago today, I was awakened at 5:30AM, by a policeman's knock on my door.

Everyone who knows me or my sister, knows the story. Time has passed, it gets easier in some ways. Though it never passes completely.

It’s amazing that one family could produce two such strong and unique women.
First, there was my mom, Bettyann. Then, seven years later Snooker came along. Snooker told me repeatedly that my mom was the best sister anyone could have had.

For my sister and me, mom was always a role model. Strong, driven, and unwilling to let anything or anyone stand in the way of what needed to be done. We wanted to please her, but she set the bar high.
Overcoming the repercussions of a terrible accident when she was in high school, my mom turned her natural drive into an unstoppable force. Her favorite response to teenage whining sums it up: “There’s no such thing as can’t”. Throughout our lives, even when we couldn’t fully appreciate her achievements, my sister and I knew she was doing incredible things.
She was the strength and motivation for our family, the protector and provider. The Queen.
Snooker was both the court jester and archivist.

Through both of them I was able to see the country. With Snooker there was her beloved Hawaii. When I was eight, I was there for one glorious summer and then our road trip when I was 10, which took us from Denver to LA with so many stops in between.

My mother showed us parts of Texas, Arizona, Colorado and Ohio we had never heard of- not the tourist places but, she’d always try to show us something- even if it sometimes involved 2 or 3 carsick, crowded and bickering hours. And she allowed me the opportunity to spend a glorious month in Prague- something I’d never dreamed I’d actually do.

When each moved to Vermont my world was altered completely.
First Snooker arrived. And in the past 11 years I have had her present in my life- not just a random phone call (This is your auntie Snooker) or at various holidays and family events. She was here. And now weekends were gardening and shopping trips for plants in the summer and craft supplies or books in the winter. Just recently, I had finally figured out how to get her out of Wal-mart or Ocean State Job Lots in less than 2 hours.
My mom only begun to adjust to Vermont and we were beginning to work out our schedule. I was learning that a trip to the dump was now a joint effort, and that while she was “perfectly capable of doing this on her own since she had lived by herself for the past 14 years, she would go grocery shopping with me if I wanted”.

There were times in the past six months when I would feel like a ping-pong ball caught between those two and outings with them were lessons in listening (To 2 conversations and opinions at once) and patience (they would pause to let me answer sometimes).

But my mother gave me support and allowed me to live with the horses and the farm. She allowed me to go to school and she pushed when I was unsure.
And Snooker would have given me the shirt off her back- thank god she didn’t have to because she had 4 brand new ones with tags in a drawer- it’s a men’s x-large in orange and pink stripes, but you can wear it in the barn. And she has given Anne a new lifelong hobby on E-bay. I’m sure there is someone who wants 10 boxes of various seedpods, pinecones, and waxed leaves.

They leave a tremendous hole in my family’s life. They were vibrant, so full of energy and life- not little old ladies slowing down, but forces of nature.
We will never fill this hole. We will have to learn to work and live around it. But whenever it becomes too much, or a task seems insurmountable, their legacy will be there. Because Snooker left us plenty to do and as my mother always believed- there is no such thing as “Can’t”.

Notes on My Mother

A lioness hunts and watches,
Protecting, and providing
For her pride.

While the hummingbird
Flits here and there
Searching for sustenance.

The terrier is feisty and loud,
Persistent, and fearless,
Despite its small stature.

The strong wind buffets
And pushes
All in its path

So suddenly
There is stillness.

We stagger and stumble
When we are abruptly
Abandoned by the wind.

The ears go wanting,
Anticipating the chaos
Of the terrier’s bark.

This garden becomes
Static, lacking
That hummingbird’s flight.

While, a world away
The lioness finally reclines
And surveys her domain.

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