Posted by: jeannineatkins | May 10, 2009

Mother’s Day

My daughter came home between classes and a summer internship, so we got to spend the weekend looking at some ocean, eating salads and fried clams, remembering our friend, and clinking glasses of mimosas. I carted around notebooks I didn’t open. We talked about movies and Harry Potter and Mother’s Days of the past. I couldn’t keep myself from asking Emily about her plans for fall, even knowing my timing was bad, so there was a fight, but we ended with a hug. Sunday morning she and I got manicures, and because the woman doing my nails seemed interested in birds, I told her about watching from a window at a friend’s house last week. Two cardinals pecked seeds, with the brighter male feeding one at time to the more muted-feathered female. Their beaks touched.

“I’ve never seen that. That’s awesome,” she said.

Yes, or grace. I didn’t tell her that moments later I turned from the kitchen window as a friend whispered words that changed our world. Not much later, I stepped into the garage, the haven of Pat’s husband, who was just returning from a motorcycle ride. I told him what had happened in the bedroom while he was so very briefly gone, after weeks, months, and years, of caring for his wife with amazing tenderness and strength.

None of us wanted that day to come, but if it had to, and I suppose it did, really everything happened about the way Pat had wanted. Friends were around. We’d taken turns that morning whispering things we hoped would be reassuring, though I know I felt ignorant, and none of us could know what she heard. The cherry tree was almost in bloom. Soon a few more friends arrived and we wandered up the road or around the yard, crying, then came back for hugs, or to pat the big white dog, and plan a service as we stood around the dining room table, which like most, was covered with stacks of papers, and listen to Pat’s husband, Ed, quote what his sister had told him: “Whatever you do now is the right thing.”



  1. I don’t that this needs a reply but I think you need to know that I read it. **hugs**

  2. Beautiful reflective piece. Glad you had the time with Emily. I’m sure you are savoring relationships more than ever now.

  3. This brought tears to my eyes.

  4. I am thinking of you today.

  5. Hugs back to you, Susan.

  6. Thanks, Joyce. And lovely that the lilacs just came out here in Mass. Hoping to get into my too neglected garden this week.

  7. Cindy, I’m thinking of you, too, with that “for sale” sign. What a wonderful place your childhood home sounds like. Thank goodness for memories.

  8. I think I love Ed’s sister. Although it’s so hard to hold onto when there are so many unknowns and so many guesses. I’m glad you had some time with Emily in here.

  9. Jeannine,
    You’ve written so beautiful about Pat and her last days and the aftermath. I know how tough this is for you, but your friends all hold you in their hearts.
    Love, Ellen

  10. Grace indeed. Holding you in my heart, and wishing I could do more.

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