Momma in a Jar

jarI keep my mother’s ashes in a small red ceramic jar on my bedroom bookcase. Sometimes I shake it, asking “Momma? Momma, are you in there?”

Funny, I think more about my mother now than when she was alive. I mean, I always remembered her birthday, anniversary and Mother’s Day. I saw her several times a month, called her more, though not as much as she’d like. So it wasn’t as if I didn’t think of her in those obligatory ways adult children do. But recently I find myself contemplating her feelings and how they relate to my own.

When I was in my 30’s, I began to sound like my mother. Any 30-something, especially if you have kids, is shocked the first time a statement spills out of your mouth that you can only attribute to your parent. One of those “I don’t care what the other kids are doing,” flashbacks that stings with the memory of swearing you’d never say that to your kid. Yet there you go. Never say never.

When I was in my 40’s, I began to look like my mother. Truth is, I’ve always looked like my Mom, especially in photos as teens with the same shoulder-length, wavy hair. But I don’t remember her hair ever being that long. But I do remember her as she worked her way through her 40’s into menopause madness. Oh, yes, I’m a Walsh woman, all right.

When I hit my 50’s, I began to feel like my mother. And this is an aspect of relating to Alice that I never considered. Granted, I know we share alotta OCD traits. But now when I find myself wishing for a little more than I’m ever gonna get—be it a gift, time, or praise—I realize my mother must have felt that same twinge. That “It’s downhill from here,” despair that any crone in her right mind will acknowledge.

It’s sad. Because you don’t know how you’re gonna feel until you get here. And by the time I got here, Momma was gone.

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