Friday, May 9, 2008

Bonds with moms are eternal

By S. Derrickson Moore
Sun-News reporter
LAS CRUCES — It started the way it always does, around the middle of April.
Fatigue, at first. A bone-deep weariness. Then a sadness.
I find myself longing to talk to my wonderful mom, and then, finally, when her May 1 birthday rolls around, I remember and put it all together. The cloud lifts and as joy kicks in again, I recognize the comforting source.
After 34 years, my body and soul still register the anniversary of that cruel April day when Mom changed venues, soaring beyond reach of summer drives, airline flights and phone lines.
I know my two siblings still feel it, too.
My younger brother Tom is a meticulous, practical, left-brain-dominant kind of guy.
He e-mailed last week with news about his latest geological research adventure. He had discovered an 1870 newspaper obituary. Our great-great grandfather, he informed me, had been killed by a freight train under mysterious circumstances.
“He was one of our Civil War veteran ancestors,” our paternal grandfather’s grandfather, Tom explained. “Over 60 Derricksons fought in the Civil War, all but two for the north. Most were related. Some were better-known, like the Captain Derrickson who was captured and refused to be involved in a prisoner exchange unless the South also released its black Union soldiers who were being held as prisoners. We also know about the Captain Derrickson who was Abe Lincoln’s buddy.”
He forwarded links to other sources to probe this mysterious death in the family so long ago, the grandfather of the grandfather who died when I was almost three-years-old, a few months before my brother was born.
Is it just coincidence, I wonder, this interest in the fate of a long-gone ancestor, unearthed, so to speak, near the anniversary of mom’s death?
As I ponder Midwestern mysteries, I feel a tidal wave of sorrow streaming from the South Florida coast to high desert county. My big sis Sally and I have always had a profound psychic bond, expressed delightfully, sometimes, when we discover we’ve given each other exactly the same eccentric Christmas presents, like sets of bright fuchsia beach towels. But there are soul-alarms hard-wired in our sisterly DNA, too.
Within a few days, Sally’s e-mail comes, and she’s been missing Mom, too: “Had a strange dream last week, she was standing there in a long flannel nightie, holding a candle. I woke up before I could understand what she was saying, but I worried it was a warning.”
Whatever life-changing triumph or trauma is headed our way, as Sally once put it when I was in high school and she was finishing college, “One of us has usually been there first” and can provide aid, insights or at least a shoulder to cry on for the other.
But we were all lost at sea, in uncharted life territory on that terrible day in 1974. None of us had lost a parent before, and we didn’t know what to do. We knew it was coming. We all traveled home to say good-bye shortly before she died. But I don’t think there’s any way to prepare for losing such an important person in your life. You discover there is an umbilical cord on both ends of this mother-child relationship, and when it snaps, it knocks the wind out of your soul.
Eventually, the pain eases, especially, ironically enough, if you’re lucky enough to have had a mom as wonderful as ours. She was a cheerful, creative soul, a talented pianist and artist and teacher. Officially, she taught art and American history, but really, she taught LIFE: 101, through post-doctoral studies. She taught us about nature, art, curiosity, optimism and mostly about love ... the full-strength, heavy duty kind that gets you through times of trouble and dimming hope, that maintains and renews your faith and connection with the ultimate, undying Source.
Yes, I miss her and wish we could share a lakeside walk, pick some wild flowers and spend some time with the family. Because of her, I have proof positive that the most important part of us lives on, and I pray that I can share that loving spirit with her great grandchildren who never got to meet her.
If you’re lucky enough to still have a mom in residence, cherish her. If not, this is a perfect time to share your memories with friends and family.
Happy Mother’s Day, everyone, and especially to you, Mom.
S. Derrickson Moore can be reached at