Last Friday, I ran into my cousins Dick and Steve, as I was exiting the bank and they were entering. We exchanged hugs and pleasantries and then Dick, whose family owns a heating and air conditioning company said, “I just had one of our clients ask me if I was related to Aunt Joyce (my mom).” Smiling back at him I replied, “Oh that’s so cool…” “She was older and said they had been good friends and talked very highly of her…” After a minute of trying to recall her name, he mentioned what street she lived on before finishing, “Well anyway…” “Thanks for telling me that. You know they say, you can’t spin a dead cat around this town without hitting one of our relatives…” We all laughed at the agreeable thought, before bidding one another a good day.
On Saturday, while the doll and I were talking to an older woman from our parish, she mentioned she lived on the same street as us, only about a block away. “How long have you lived here?” She inquired. “Well, let’s see, I’ve lived on this street about 46 years, give or take a few months…” I said and then laughed. “Oh, so you’re a lifelong member of the parish. Where (on the street) did you grow up?” She replied. “Directly behind the school…” I said. “Oh, that’s Joyce and Tom’s house,” She replied. “Yes, I’m one of their nine kids–the eighth of nine to be exact,” I explained. Looking at the doll and then back to me she said, “Your mom, Joyce, was just one of the loveliest women ever to walk the earth”. Smiling back at her I said, “Thank you for saying so. You know it’s funny, you’re the second person to bring her up to me in as many days. Maybe she’s trying to get my attention or something…” The woman’s eyes became very large as she quickly replied, “Oh, she is. I firmly believe in that stuff”. Laughing I said, “Mom, I’ve already lost the weight, move on…” (When alive, my mom’s typical daily greeting to me was always, “How’s the weight coming?”) “Oh and you can tell too. I see you walking in the neighborhood all the time, ” The woman remarked causing me to thank her again, before we parted company.
Saturday afternoon, my sister Ann Marie and I decided since there was a clothing drive happening at the school, now was the perfect time to clear out the rest of my mother’s clothing from my dad’s closets. Some of you may think this was a difficult process for us, but she’s been gone now ten years. Every once in a while, Ann Marie would say, “Can you see Mom still wearing this?” or I would say, “I remember mom walking around the house with that flannel shirt draped over her shoulders during the winter months,” but there was nothing maudlin about the task we were undertaking. “I wonder whose wedding she wore this one to?” Ann Marie asked holding up a very dressy shirt and skirt combo. “Your wedding or mine…” I replied, not remembering or for that matter recognizing the outfit as I folded them into the bag.
“Hey wanna hear something weird?” I asked as she pulled another piece of clothing from the bedroom closet. Recalling my conversations with Dick and Steve, along with the woman from earlier in the day, I also made the same crack about losing weigh causing us both to laugh. Then she pulled out a grey zippered hoodie sweatshirt that actually happened to belong to me. “Wait, what’s this doing in there?” I asked astounded. “Why?” “That’s my hoodie and I’ve been looking for it for months.” I said and then added, “What the hell is it doing in there?” Handing me the sweatshirt, she noted the embroidered image of a tree with the words “The Grove” across the top left. “What’s The Grove?” She asked. “A webseries I follow,” I said setting the hoodie aside to take home later.
All in all we bagged up twelve kitchen bags full of clothing and I figured out what mom was trying to tell me from heaven–“Come get the hoodie that’s now too big for you to wear.