Letter to Mom – Written Two Months After She Disappeared

Dear Mom,

I’m so sorry about all of this. If there was something wrong with you before you broke your hip and had surgery for it, why didn’t we figure that out? I’m not supposed to think like this – because you were old and old people die.

God Mom, I miss you so much. I want to talk to you. It’s just little things that I’d say. Today I’d tell you that I went for a swim in the rain. And that I’m scrapping off some old wooden chairs to repaint. You’d admire the chair job because it’s frugal – and will be bright and colourful. You lived a whole long life without learning how to swim so you might not think of it as enjoyable in rainy weather, but it was.

And I’d tell you about going to the farmer’s market at the near-by community hall. Remember, it’s not like the ones in the city. Out here at the cottage they really are farmers selling cucumbers (got some) and zucchini’s (got those too) and fresh potatoes and corn (our supper). Maybe I wouldn’t tell you I bought a beautiful little bird house made by a local artist. It’s exquisite but you’d wonder how many bird houses I could own?

Did I ever tell you that we got the birdhouse off your garage before your house sold? How many birdhouses do I have to own before I’m a bird house collector?

Those are some of the things I’d talk about with you if you were still here. But you’re not and so what I want to talk most about is Dad. God it’s so hard with him. When you first left us (where did you go Mom?) his dementia seemed suddenly less of a factor. Like he was shocked into being clearer. Mom, I know you were 89 and I guess in worse health than we thought, but we were shocked when you died. (You know Dad doesn’t like the term ‘passed away’ so I try not to use it.) When you were first brought to the hospital with that stupid broken hip you said, You didn’t want to do ‘that hip thing’. And I knew what you meant – how a broken hip and surgery can lead to a slow downward spiral. But it wasn’t a spiral at all. It was way faster than that. I’m angry with myself for not staying with you at the hospital 24/7 but I had no idea we were going to lose you. If I could go back in time – I’d go back to then, but I’m guilty of magical thinking believing that I could have changed anything by being there. Your lung collapsed Saturday night but no one knew that . I’m glad I had a sister with me at the hospital, holding your hand and wiping your brow, but she and I are also glad the others didn’t see you, so they can remember you differently than that.

So yeah it’s hard with Dad. Cause he’s not clear now like he was that first week. He’s so lost without you. But maybe I shouldn’t tell you that. Though is there some way that you know? People I’m close to are saying there is. I don’t know what I believe. Are you looking over my shoulder at my fingers moving quickly over my iphone keys right now? Or are you just gone? I thought that I would have somehow felt you by now. There was one morning when I saw you in a dream and it was comforting then, but it wasn’t enough. I’m waiting for something like that again.

Mom we’re doing our best with Dad. It’s so hard as he doesn’t always seem to know that. And they are wonderful with him where he lives. He’s getting out a lot – like really a lot. He asks us to take him places constantly and none of us can say no, even if we’d taken him on a long drive in the country the day before. But we’ll barely have him back and he’s asking when we can do it again.

You’d be proud of your grandkids – they’re visiting him too. Hey, we made the family jelly – your special rose petal (maybe I felt you watching me that night), and raspberry jelly, and the peachy pear. I think we did alright.

Oh – and in this high tech world I taught my granddaughters how to embroidery one evening at the lake. I knew that would make you happy. Oh mommy. I miss you so much. I thought this letter might help. Maybe the first try is the hardest.

I could just imagine your response. I know you’d give me advice about the jam (it all set, but I did have one runny batch). And you’d just love that your six and nine year-old great-grand daughters were embroidering. It was cool to see how much they liked it and went free hand with their names above their carefully stitched puppy and butterfly.

I think you’d tell us we were spoiling dad and we don’t have to take him out so much. I know behind the dementia is my ‘real’ dad, who would never be so demanding. But both that dad and this dad are so lonely for you. I’m sitting here on the end of the dock, feeling as lost as daddy. I’ll slip into the lake and swim, I guess. I don’t know how to sign off.

Love you forever Mom.

Ps. I haven’t done the best job with your bills. Some got paid late. I know you’d hate that. I’ll do better.

Pps. Did I ever tell you that Rose says if she ever had a baby girl she’d name it Vera – after you. I hope I did.

16 thoughts on “Letter to Mom – Written Two Months After She Disappeared

  1. I believe they are near, Candace. And that we will see them again!
    Your mom has simply gone home.
    My Dad, my best friend, went home four years ago. And yesterday.
    My Mom left long before him. Parkinson’s robbed us of her sweet spirit far too soon. Before she and I were even able to get out of the ‘mother/daughter’ phase and into the ‘friend’ phase.
    I miss them both. Even now, fifteen years after Mom left us, I think, “Golly! I haven’t talked to Mom in a while. I should call her!” Then reality hits. Again. I don’t think it ever goes away.
    Thinking of you and your family today…


    • I appreciate your comments Diane – yesterday I had a little cry in the grocery store when I saw bunches of beautiful gladiolas for sale. I wanted to buy one for her and one for me. I think I’ll go back and bring some to the reception desk when my dad lives.


  2. I’m so sorry for the loss of your Mom. Mine died at 89 as well and I was the only one in the room that night. It’s hard taking care of someone who is ill. I’m in the middle of it right now with someone else.


  3. This is beautiful love letter to a beautiful person, Candy. I can hear your voice speaking here and feel very sad for you and your dad.
    xoxo Janice


  4. Candy I loved reading this letter to your Mom.
    I imagined her hanging over your shoulder as you wrote how much you miss her.
    When we lost Tanner I journaled every day for about a year….I still do but not as often. It was good therapy for my soul on the really hard days. It soothed that ache in my shattered heart as I tried to piece it back together all while trying to keep hold of my sanity.
    I also imagined Tanner hanging over my shoulder reading my words hoping there was no doubt about how much we loved him just in case we hadn’t told him or showed him enough before we lost him.
    I bet she loved your letter and knowing that you’re all honouring her by making her legendary rose petal jelly and teaching her great granddaughters how to embroider. That’s what she would have wanted.
    We really don’t know what the other side holds…I just know it’s more consoling to believe they are right here waiting for the rest of us to join them.


  5. Wow! I was thinking of your mom today as I was making jam for the church bazaar and then read your post .Coincidence!!! Her many contributions of jams and jelly and especially her presence will certainly be missed in the “county kitchen”. It is so good to hear that you are keeping up the family jelly tradition. i am sure she is smiling as she hears of all your efforts.
    Blessings to you and all your family.
    Beth Wilson


  6. Sooooo tender and conversational Candy—the ordinary made extraordinary by memory and intention. I speak with my mother every day. I know I will feel very similarly when her time comes. Maybe it helps for you to know that in this way you are a guide for me. Thank you.


  7. Candy, your post is so touching. I’m sad that you are going through this. My heart goes out to you. I didn’t know your mom but sounds like she was amazing.
    I understand your feelings. I went/am going through similar days. Lost my dad 2 years ago, and have my 91 year old mom with me. Not easy but thankful she is still here.
    Again your words were beautiful. I’m sure your mom is smiling down at you.
    Mona Shaher


  8. Oh Candy, I too have regrets around my Dad’s death, wishing that I had been there, holding his hand. But both he and my Mom passed away quietly when there were no visitors, I think not wanting any final fuss. It is a huge hole in our lives, I too was blessed with amazing parents who I miss every day, but with less pain as the years (10) have gone by. I have been thinking of you and your sisters and brothers, remembering those lazy days at Woods Lake. We were so lucky weren’t we? Sharon


  9. Such a beautiful letter to your Mom. This is real grief…how so many experience it but can’t express it. You have done that and that helps you and a whole lot of others, Candace. Your Mom would also love that. Hugs. Love Ariel


  10. I had a very similar conversation with mom just the other day. And I cried as much as I am now. Amazing how the tears just keep coming. It’s true – that part about being so shocked, that it wasn’t supposed to happen the way it did. And I so appreciated having a sister with me too…and in one way sorry my other siblings didn’t have that time, but in another glad (not quite the right word, but glad..) that they don’t have to have the trauma of those last few hours in their memories. Being with mom in those last hours was a gift; but a hard one to live through. I’ve been there for other families who walk that journey with a loved one, but nothing prepares you enough for when it’s your own journey, with your own beloved. And it does indeed sometimes feel like mom disappeared.


  11. Thank you for this beautiful bittersweet post. Candy. My thoughts and prayers are with all of you.
    Jessie Peters


    • Thanks so much Jessie – I think you are probably the first person to see this that knew Mom. I just keep revising it – cause really I don’t know what to say. But it means a lot to see your name – and know that someone that knew her has read it. xo


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