This Earth Day marks the 12th anniversary of my mother’s death. A day filled with golden daffodils, warm soil, the haze of soft greening and points of pastel color just emerging – much like an Impressionist painting – essentially the same as it was on the day she left us years ago. I have been dragging today. I feel the loss of her as a hollow ache. It is as if I moved the wrong way I might tear some ligament within, or rupture something in my heart.
When those Important Events arise that someone you love should have been at, you always take notice. There have been those milestone moments where we would say “Mom would have loved this”. How we wish she had the acknowledgement that her children were settled and doing alright. How I would have loved to have her here giving her opinions on decorating my first home. Seeing her grandchildren grow up, graduate high school and college. Being present at her granddaughter’s wedding. The thrill and disbelief of holding her great-grand baby. Taking a “girls vacation” and walking on the beach,which she loved so much, with us, who she loved so much. The holidays. However, as much as her absence is felt at those eventful times, it is the myriad of simple, routine actions that trigger the emotions that I feel so acutely.
I was rinsing spinach for dinner tonight and decided to use the salad spinner. I had never wanted one, and yet my mother had kept insisting I have one, extolling the virtue of hers. I was not into kitchen gadgets at the time. I thought it was one more ridiculous plastic piece of junk that I didn’t need cluttering up the few cupboards in our farmhouse, which was filled with heavy cast iron pans, ceramic crocks, an old-fashioned stainless Oster blender, wooden spoons and a crescent mezzaluna hanging on the wall. I thought it was just a piece of plastic infomercial crap. She gave me one anyway, and I let it disappear. When I was at her house and she used hers to rinse the salad, always commenting how marvelous it was with an almost child-like appreciation, I would laugh at her. I was such a brat.
But of course, she was right. The salad spinner works. It’s a simple, great invention. Every time I make a fresh salad, I use the spinner I bought years after her death and think of her. Every single time. Tonight, as I rinsed my spinach, there she was. I just wanted her to know, “Check this out…here I am, using the salad spinner and you were right.” You were right about so much. How I wish there was a way to convey the belated appreciation for all of it. I breathed through the sudden wrench in my chest, blinked back some tears, and finished preparing dinner.