Friday, July 2, 2010

Six Minutes




UPDATE: I have entered this story in a Birthday-themed writing contest at Deanna Schrayer's website. Here is the link: The Other Side of Deanna. I'd also like to thank my aunt, Leona Adkins, for providing me with the pictures for this post. 


I started to write this piece for #fridayflash for Mother's Day, but I was overcome with emotion in the middle of writing it and couldn't finish. I decided to start writing a new version to post for my birthday. 


There are sacred traditions that exist between mothers and daughters. Traditions which bind them together like thread on a loom.

I am my mother's first born, the first daughter of her womb, and we had such traditions. 

One of our rituals, repeated every year on July 3rd (by telephone, when we were living long distances from one another) was in the form of staged conversations that occurred during the years following my move to Florida. My mother left her home in Ohio when I was in my teens, escaping a marriage marred by perpetual violence. I left the Buckeye State and flew south to live with her when I was twenty. These dialogues began shortly after we were reunited. 

#

Mom said, "Do you know what I was doing on this night in 1965?"

Me, straight-faced: "I don't remember, actually." 

"Smart ass," she said. "I was trying to push a baby out of my belly. It hurt like hell!" She laughed then, a dry-sounding laugh that bordered on coughing. She was always very sickly. Doctors tested every year for TB. Her father died from the rare kind that attacks the bone, before she was old enough to say her first word. 

"I'm sorry," I said. 

"I'm not," she replied. On the occasions when we were together, this would prompt a warm hug. 

So that the situation would not turn too mushy, I broke away with a light jest. "11:54 p.m. Why couldn't you wait six more minutes so that I would've been a firecracker baby?" 

My mother exploded in a burst of mock anger. "ME! It was YOU that couldn't wait."

"That's right. I wanted to get out and start partying!"

This was our cue to collapse into laughter. 

"You're still a firecracker," my mother said. 

We would then proceed to get uproariously drunk and argue about whichever Stephen King book we happened to be reading at the moment. These arguments would follow with my mother admonishing me for not writing stories like I used to when I was younger. 

"I'll pick it up again, someday," I promised.

"You better or I'll kick your ass."

Every year, no matter where each of us happened to be, my mother would either visit me or call for my 'birthday' ritual, although the words would vary somewhat from year-to-year. This tradition carried on through a relocation to Texas (hers), a wedding (mine), a battle with kidney disease (hers), and the illness of a spouse (mine). 

Until 1999, when the ritual came to an end. Her veins shut down and she could no longer receive the dialysis treatments. The howling misery of it all was that I could not be with her as she departed from this life. She was in Texas; I was in Florida. My husband had just come home from his second hospital stay, and we were broke. 

I can't begin to describe the pain that exists in not being able to say a final goodbye to someone you love. Especially to your mother. There are no words that cut deep or raw enough for that kind of pain. That kind of void.

My mom was my best friend, confidante, drinking buddy, and number one resource for most of the dirty jokes of my adulthood. Plus, she was my mother. There is no way to fill such a void. Ever. 

I continue the ritual alone now.

On July 3rd, at 11:54 p.m., I lift my face to the heavens and say, "Why couldn't you wait six minutes?" 

#

This story is for my mother, Georgia (Georgie) Juanita Adkins. I love you and I miss you, mom. 

P.S. I'm writing again.

60 comments:

  1. I'm sure your mother would appreciate the fact that you're writing again - and writing so well!

    Wonderful piece. Thank you so much for sharing it.

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  2. wonderful! keep writing! Maria

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  3. What a compelling story. Even more so since it is true.

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  4. Icy,

    Thanks for reading and commenting. I'm thrilled that you enjoyed it.

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  5. Farhan;

    Thanks for the comment, my friend. I'm glad you liked it and I think I will keep writing!

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  6. Diandra,

    Thanks for commenting. I'm glad you enjoyed it. You are right, sometimes the best stories are the ones we have lived through,

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  7. This is beautiful. You have me in tears. Your mother did a wonderful job, and I'm glad you're writing again.

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  8. A most worthy ritual. Keep writing!

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  9. A great piece - happy birthday!

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  10. Jen;

    I'm glad it touched you. Thanks for your kind comment. I'm glad to be writing #fridayflash again. :)

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  11. Amanda;

    I'm glad you liked it. Thanks for reading and commenting.

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  12. Tony;

    Thanks for reading and your wonderful comment & RT. I'm happy that you liked it. Thanks for the birthday wishes, too! :D

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  13. Keep writing indeed, Maria! Your mother may have left this world, but her memories will always stay alive if you nurture them as you are doing. (I lost my mother 40 years ago and she is still an important guiding force in my life.)

    May you continue to source and develop new forms on inspiration.

    Doreen.

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  14. Beautiful, full of love. Really appreciate you sharing this.

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  15. Oh wow, that really has brought me to tears. Beautifully written. I am so sorry for your loss, but I hope you can smile when you think of these memories now. x

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  16. Doreen;

    Thank you for reading and for your kind comments. I know that my mom continues to be an inspiration to me.

    Alison;

    Thank you. I am glad it touched you.

    Rebecca;
    Thank you for reading and your warm comments. I do smile when I think of the times my mom and I had together, just being silly like this.
    I'm glad you liked it. :)

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  17. Just beautiful, Maria. The love between you and your mother just gleams out of these words.

    She's still with you, cheering every word you write. :)

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  18. Your words are so encouraging. May you always find joy in your writing!

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  19. Very touching story. I'm sure she's smiling down on you everyday. Thanks for sharing.

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  20. Oh, this is wonderful, Maria. Sweetened by humor and sentiment. Thank you for sharing the July 3rd tradition with us.

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  21. Gracie,

    I'm glad you liked it. Thanks for commenting!

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  22. Joanie;

    Thank you for reading and I'm glad you enjoyed. Thanks for your comment and for your encouragement.

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  23. Eric;

    Thanks for reading, commenting and following this blog. I know my mom is watching me and is proud that I'm finally working to get my degree and she's happy about what I've accomplished so far as a writer and poet. She's one of many angels that are watching over me!

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  24. John;

    Thanks for your kind comments and I'm glad this story has touched so many people. It was difficult to write. I'm glad you liked it. One thing I omitted. My mom had a neat tattoo. I don't have any. I've sort of vowed to get a tattoo in her honor (but one that doesn't say "Mother"-that's a Big Hell No!) whenever I make my first sale.

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  25. Such a beautiful story. And to read that not only was your mother your mom, she was also your best friend (and drinking buddy!) brought tears. As did your P.S. to her.

    Happy birthday, dear.

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  26. Marisa;

    Thanks for your nice comments. I'm glad you liked it. My mom and I were more like sisters. Wild, crazy sisters, than anything else.

    Thanks for the birthday wishes!

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  27. I came straight to the bottom so I wouldn't lose the feeling by reading everyone else's comments. You punched me in the gut with this one. Your mom must be so happy you are writing again... I know we are.

    Yes, I need a tissue.

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  28. Very touching story. I'm sure your mother's proud. Well done.

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  29. Peg;

    Thanks for reading and your wonderful comment. I am glad my story touched you so. Thank you for your encouraging words. I don't normally write this type of story, but I've felt compelled to write this one for a long time.

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  30. Melissa;

    Thanks for reading and commenting. I'm glad you liked it!

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  31. A beautiful tribute to your mother...I'm sure she knows that you're writing again.

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  32. Maria, she heard your good-bye, whether you were physically there or not. When you are close to someone and love someone the way you and your mom loved each other, words aren't needed. She knew!

    Your story is beautiful and you are making her so proud.:-)

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  33. Brought a tear to my eye and a lump to my throat - what a toucing story. She'll be so proud

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  34. So sad and so beautifully written that I'm sure no reader could fail to be moved. Very powerful writing.

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  35. Beautiful tribute. Keep writing.

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  36. It's hard not to cry while reading this. Such a beautifully written, lovely tribute to not only your mother, but all mothers.

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  37. Laura;

    Thanks for reading and commenting. I'm happy you liked it!

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  38. A wonderful tribute to your mother. She was right to say you should write.

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  39. That was beautiful. I have a tear in my eye. I'm so glad you are writing again, and I am sure she is too. I hope you have a good birthday, still wrapped in the love of, and for, you mother.
    ~jon

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  40. Cindy;

    Thanks, lady. I know she heard me and still does. Her and Shawn are my guardian angels. Thank you for your lovely comments!

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  41. brainhaze;

    Thanks for reading & leaving such a warm, encouraging comment. I'm glad the story touched you.

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  42. Heather;

    Thank you for encouraging comments. I'm glad you were touched by it and liked it. Memoir is not my usual style, but this story begged me to tell it. Thanks for stopping by!

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  43. David;

    Thanks for reading my story and commenting! I'm glad you liked it.

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  44. Rachel;

    Thanks for your lovely comments. I am glad the story of my mom touched so many people.

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  45. Chris;

    Thanks, my friend, for reading, and leaving such an encouraging comment. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

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  46. Jon;

    Thanks for stopping by and leaving such a beautiful, encouraging comment. This meant so much to me. I am so honored and thrilled to be accepted into this wonderful and supportive #fridayflash community of great writers. It makes me feel like my writing is perhaps not in vain after all.

    Thank you.

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  47. That was a really touching story Maria. Keep on writing...

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  48. Alan;

    Thank you for reading and for your encouraging comment. I'm glad you liked it!

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  49. Maria, this is absolutely gorgeous, heartwrenching, just beautiful. Although you weren't with your mother physically when she died, I'm sure she felt you there with her all the same. I'm always glad to hear of a close mother-daughter relationship.

    And happy (late) birthday!

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  50. Thanks, Deanna, for your warm and wonderful comments! I'm glad you enjoyed it!

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  51. What a beautiful story, Maria. Thank you for sharing it with us and never stop writing.

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  52. Danielle,

    Thanks for stopping by and reading the story of my mom and my birthday. I'm glad it touched you!

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  53. I'm sure I would have liked your mother. Thanks for sharing I know it was painful. I lost my mom in 2001, three days after Mother's day. Even though I only lived 1 hour away I didn't get to spend Mother's Day with her and a heart attack took her suddenly in minutes. I still talk to her and hear her voice. Our conversation all ways started when my mom would call me the day before my birthday to wish me happy birthday. I would always tell her, "Mom you went in to labor on the 27th. I didn't show up until 28th on Thanksgiving day."

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  54. Theres just life'

    Thanks for sharing that beautiful comment of your own birthday tradition with your mom. I'm glad you enjoyed reading my story and that it inspired some good memories of your mom. :)

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  55. Your mom is proud of you and your writing, I am sure. What a beautiful tribute to her. Loved it!

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  56. G.P.;

    Thanks for stopping by, reading this tribute to my mom and leaving me a comment. I'm glad you loved it.

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  57. What a wonderful tribute. I'm sure your mother would be proud.

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  58. Just a quick note to Maria's readers - there's less than 15 hours left to vote in the contest. Have you cast your vote?
    We'll be partying at The Other Side of Deanna on Monday. I hope everyone can stop in!

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  59. I love it Maria , I was with your brother when this happen and it was hard. I love the story, because I never got to talk to her. Keep up the great work , she is smiling down on you as your coach in life still.

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  60. Hi Maria. We're having a party today - hope you and your readers can stop in: http://theothersideofdeanna.wordpress.com/2010/08/16/party-time/

    Thanks so much for entering the contest!

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