This week marks the beginning of a new Gravel Road feature called Fantastic Friday. Each Friday a fantastic blog post from the past will be given an encore airing. I hope you enjoy what you read as much as I enjoy thumbing through the archives and choosing them.
With Valentine’s Day almost here, this post about Mom’s Valentine wish (circa 2012) sprang to mind immediately. It truly is a favorite post because it shows the depth of Mom’s love for Dad, who died in 1997 after a 38 year battle with multiple sclerosis.
When Mom and I kept our standing lunch date last Tuesday, I mentioned that our next lunch would fall on Valentine’s Day. “That’s kind of fun, Mom. What would you like for Valentine’s Day?”
She thought for a few seconds. “Well, what I really want for Valentine’s Day I can’t have.” She fiddled with her coffee cup. “So I might as well not mention it.”
“Go ahead,” I encouraged her. “What do you really want?”
“What I really want is a few more years with your dad before his mind went…” She paused and moved her fingers in a circle at the side of her head. Her brow furrowed, and her blue eyes looked sad. “…you know, before he was…”
“I know,” I whispered.
“He wasn’t with me that way long enough,” Mom sighed.
I nodded, not knowing what to say. There are no words for Mom’s loss. Dad’s diagnosis of multiple sclerosis at age 29, less than 10 years after their marriage. The love of her life struck down by multiple sclerosis. The end of her dream of being the wife of a county extension agent and mother to an increasing brood of kids. The loss of the bread winner, the protector, and leader of the family she loved so much and taking on those roles for the next 38 years as Dad slowly failed and finally died at age 67.
Now, 15 years after his death, what does Mom want for Valentine’s Day?
Not a card.
She wants a few more years with her husband as he once was.
I looked at her, across the table, and said, “We can’t know what life would have been like if he hadn’t gotten sick. But I do know the life you gave us was a good one. You raised us well.”
She nodded and smiled. “I did a pretty good job, didn’t I?”
“You did,” I agreed and helped her into her coat and out the door.
Hiram’s off tomorrow, so we’re going down together to see Mom. We’ll take her to lunch at Culver’s, one of her favorite places to eat. Mainly because she loves their frozen turtle custard.
Over dessert, we’ll tease her like Dad did. We’ll talk about his love of ice cream, his silly jokes, his infectious grin, the goofy songs he loved to sing, the cribbage rules he invented as he played.
Compared to what Mom has lost, lunch at Culvers doesn’t seem like much. But perhaps, sharing memories of Dad and indulging in the laughter and dessert he loved will bring him to her in some small way. Perhaps, over frozen custard, we can give Mom a memory of what she’s wanted for Valentine’s Day for years.
If you would like to see a certain post on Fantastic Friday, leave a comment in the box below, and I’ll try to find it. Happy Friday and Happy Valentine’s Day to all!