Yesterday was a beautiful warm summer day. I wanted to go for a bike ride and I thought I should go in the morning rather than wait and risk the possibility of something coming up later that might cause me to miss it. The ride was beautiful and seemed easy. I like to ride out to the state park which is a few miles from my home. Once I get into the park there are nice trails and paths to ride along and the scenery makes the trip go by fairly quickly.
I love birds and there are always so many different ones to see. I’m not an avid birder so there are a lot of them that I can’t name, but I can hold my own thanks to a very knowledgeable brother-in-law and sister! We live in a major bird migratory flyway… actually one of the places where the Mississippi Flyway and Atlantic Flyway intersect. Every spring our area gets thousands of birders visiting from all over the world. We tend to take it for granted sometimes but it’s really pretty awesome. My friends and family like to tease me in the winter because I like to sit on my living room floor for lengths of time and watch the birds outside at our feeders. In my defense though… we have many feeders set up and at certain times of the day when the birds are having their feeding frenzies, I can see cardinals, bluejays, goldfinches, tufted titmice, nuthatches, black-capped chickadees, juncos, downy woodpeckers, red-bellied woodpeckers, purple finches, various wrens and sparrows all feeding simultaneously. The park has nothing on me!
One of my Mom’s last hobby attempts before she died was bird watching. She loved nature and was probably the most observant person of nature that I ever knew. It didn’t matter if it was plants, animals, or weather! She saw everything! I couldn’t help but think of her a lot while I was riding yesterday. She would have known what each wildflower was, what every bird that I heard was, and would be able to identify every fragrance in the summer air.
My Mom, although she had been widowed for almost 31 years, was rather dependent. Not physically, but she was very introverted and just not a social being. She was very nice and people loved her, but she was quite content to have her circle of friends limited to her children, in-laws, and grandchildren. This actually drove me nuts because I let myself feel responsible for her happiness sometimes. She would call me almost every day at work and not really have anything to say. I would be frustrated inside but I didn’t want to hurt her feelings. She just wanted companionship.
Now that Mom is gone, I find myself coming to the realization that I needed her equally as much as she needed me. I just didn’t know it. I have surprised myself by how many times I have instinctively grabbed for the phone to call her, or had fleeting thoughts in my head of “I have to tell Mom…” or “I wonder what Mom is doing today…” only to remember instantly that she isn’t here and I can’t talk to her. Over the years I have felt so much like my Mom’s mom… felt her neediness, and a lot of times, I am ashamed to say, I resented it. I would give anything to have those moments back again. There is so absolutely much I want to say to her, share with her, and to hear her words of wisdom and experience. I want to talk to her about Maddie and what we as a family just went through… are still going through. I want her to talk to my daughter and reassure her that she’ll be okay. There are so many ways that I need her yet and I miss her more as each day goes by. So much of the grieving was unconsciously put on hold these last few months while we struggled through our concerns for Maddie and my daughter and son-in-law.
While I was riding home, a couple of bicyclists passed me. As I watched them ride further on, I saw one put her arms in back of her and ride without using her hands. It made me realize I had never tried that as a kid! I know – hard to believe! So, of course you know what I had to do… I tried very slowly at first, taking my hands off the handlebars… steadying the bike as I went… grabbing the handlebars again for security and then trying to let go once again. It took a few tries, but I realized if I sat up very straight and tall in my seat, I could do it!! I was laughing out loud!! It was sooo freeing!! I realized then that that is exactly what Mom would have me do with life right now… let go of the fears and the worries and the hurts. I actually started to feel glimpses of empowerment and happiness. Normalcy was creeping in for a moment to let me know that it would come back again in time to reside. I knew then that at some point I would be able to go on without Mom here to hold me up. It won’t be right away, but someday I won’t feel the need to have the security of a mother and for the first time I’ll be able to think of her and say to her… “Look Mom…no hands…!”