My mother has been gone now since December 16, 2015. Some days it’s hard to process that, along with my dad’s passing last April 22. There are so many times when I think, “oh, I have to call Mom/Dad to tell them this!” Then I remember that they are gone.
But here’s the funny thing: although I am always going to miss them, there is always that deep release/relief in my mind. That relief is that I no longer have to agree with certain things they said or did, I don’t have to veer off of inflamatory subjects, I don’t have keep a booklist anymore; most of all, I don’t have try to live their standards that never were mine.
Case in point: I recently introduced the Crankee Yankee to my favorite kind of lettuce; endive. It’s always been my favorite, and I love that slightly bitter taste it has. I usually eat it with a few drops of good olive oil or dip the leaves into my current favorite salad dressing; organic cilantro lime. It turns out that he likes endive just as much as I do! In fact, he liked it so much that he bought seeds to grow some in our garden this year.
Now, for years I have pronounced it “ON-deeve,” which my mother said was the French way of saying it. She and Dad used to travel up to Quebec City and stay a few days. They loved the food, the people, the open markets, and Mom especially loved shopping for vegetables. This is where she learned to pronounce endive as “ON-deeve.”
After she died, I kept on saying it that way; don’t know why, I just did. But yesterday as I made out a short shopping list, I turned to the Crankee Yankee and said I was sorry for being all hoity-toity about pronouncing it as “ON-deeve.” I said to hell with it; it was and is “endive” now for all eternity!
This is just one example of some of the things we do when our parents die. For all their lives, they imprint their own ideas, beliefs and habits onto us. This is pretty standard of all parents, and we children pick them right up and keep on with them.
This is like that old tale of why one woman always cut the end off of the Easter ham before baking it. One Easter her daughter asked her why she did it. The mother replied, “that’s how Grandma did it.”
The daughter went to visit her grandmother, and in the course of conversation she asked about cutting off the end of the Easter ham. The grandmother laughed and laughed, and said, “Oh, I did that because my mother did it; she never had a pan big enough for the whole ham, and that’s why she cut the end off!”
So there you go; that ham end was just one of those things that got passed on. (Just for the record, the daughter bought her mom a new and bigger pan for the next Easter ham!) Plus it’s a funny reminder that we don’t always need to keep our parents’ habits, beliefs, practices and what-have-you.
Over the time my parents have been gone, I have learned to keep what I love and let the rest go. Besides, my mother would be the first to say, “Oh, for Heaven’s sake; do things your own way! I raised you to be independent, so be independent already!”
Thanks Mom, Dad, Ba and Bumpa (Dad’s parents), Aunt Ruby, and all my beloved relatives who went before me. As the old song goes, “*just take what you need and leave the rest.”
*Per Wikipedia: “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” is a song written by Robbie Robertson and originally recorded by the Canadian-American roots rock group the Band in 1969 and released on their eponymous second album. Levon Helm provided the lead vocals.