Surprised by Tears
Five years have passed since my mom died. Her final years brought significant back pain from a narrowing of the spinal column, or something like that. We used to range far and wide on bicycles; she had to give up bike riding. She stopped driving. She couldn’t even go for a walk. To get anywhere required holding onto someone’s arm.
Her life contracted to the house with visits to the therapy pool at the YMCA.
And then dementia began destroying her mind. She’d put plastic bowls in the oven. She forgot how to spell. Children’s books became her preferred reading.
Staying patient with her wasn’t always easy. When I had full care of her during my dad’s absence, she insisted he didn’t want to bother with her anymore. I kept telling her, he’s on a business trip, he’ll be back. She would not be consoled.
There were times I wished she would die. There is, after all, no more pain or crying in Heaven. She was no longer living; merely existing. A painful, confusing existence. What’s the point in this suffering?
And then she died. She is free from pain and crying and sorrow. But we are not. Five years has passed, and sometimes, still, the grief strikes fresh.
While cleaning the house, I decided to look through the half dozen boxes stacked in the tiny sewing room. They contained remnants of yarn. Mom was a prolific knitter and sewer. As I pulled out the skeins, I remembered their use. I remembered when she fell on ice and broke her arm. She had completed one mitten of a new set for me and wanted to finish its mate before I returned to college after Christmas break. With her arm in a cast, she couldn’t knit, and was so frustrated.
I remembered trying to sew a new top for the first day of a school year. I had to rush off to orientation, my sewing unfinished. I returned home, wondering what I’d wear, and discovered she had finished it.
Holding that yarn, the tears fell. The agony and horror of her last years are fading, and the memories of the good years are pushing forward. And I miss my mom. The mom who could be found in the church kitchen stirring up Kool-Aid during Vacation Bible School. The mom who helped plan and hosted a birthday party for two friends and me, born just days apart, with the church youth group.
She was very much an involved mother. Mom had the gift of service. Had she been old enough during World War II, I could imagine her serving as a Red Cross doughnut girl. For my new release, Soar Like Eagles, I named my main character for her. And I dedicate this book to her.
Carol wants to do her part for the war, but can she maintain her ideals?
Chet joins the air force, hoping to find peace.
Carol joins the Red Cross, serving doughnuts and coffee to GIs in England. Convinced wartime romances are doomed to disappointment, she avoids entanglements. She transfers to France, away from Chet, the B-17 navigator who tempts her to throw caution to the wind.
Chet’s father and brothers always belittled him. Now a squadron lead navigator, he longs to prove them wrong. He’s been offered a terrific job with PanAm after the war, but has several close calls in combat.
Carol and Chet continually cross paths. Do they dare make plans for a future together?
Terri Wangard’s first Girl Scout badge was the Writer. These days she is writing historical fiction, and won the 2013 Writers on the Storm contest and 2013 First Impressions, as well as being a 2012 Genesis finalist. Holder of a bachelor’s degree in history and a master’s degree in library science, she lives in Wisconsin. Her research included going for a ride in a WWII B-17 Flying Fortress bomber. Classic Boating Magazine, a family business since 1984, keeps her occupied as an associate editor. Her first two books, Friends and Enemies and No Neutral Ground, were published earlier this year, but the publisher went out of business one month before the third book in her WWII series was to release. All three books will be released by Celebrate Lit later this year.