This is what Johnny started doing with this picture of my Mother. It began last Monday when he wanted to look at her picture and requested that I take it down off the mantle. He’d sit and hold it and then say “Mommy’s Mommy.”. Afterwards he would walk around the living room testing out new places to display the photo. The next day he had the photo again and he was sitting at the table resting his chin on his hands staring intently at her face. Then wherever he was playing he would rest the photo by that toy and hence that’s why we have the fire station photo.
I always knew that one day I would have to start talking about my mother to my children but I wasn’t expecting to now. It took every bit of will power I had to keep my emotions in check and not cry in front of him. I bumped into my Dad’s Palliative care Doctor a few weeks ago and she told me that children grieve a little differently then adults. It is often like they are holding a book in their hands and they open it and look a little bit and then they close it quickly when they have had enough. Something happens and they are ready to open that book again.
The picture was one of the pictures that my father kept at his bedside. I would pop in and see Johnny sitting on my Dad’s bed looking at all of his pictures while his Grandpa spoke to him about who all the people were.
One day at lunch this past week I could see that Johnny was trying very hard not to cry and his little sister Princess kept saying “sad….he’s sad.” I asked Johnny what was making him sad and he said “Mommy.”. I couldn’t figure out want I had done or said so I probed further and tried to get him to elaborate. “No….Mommy’s Mommy….Grandma” and he pointed to the fireplace mantle where her picture was. I bravely asked him whether he was wondering why he has never met her. “Yes.”
At that moment I wondered what my Mom would have said if she was in my shoes and then I remembered that she once was all those years ago. I never knew her Mother and she told me that Grandma would have loved to have known me and spending time with me.
So I took a deep breathe and talked to Johnny about how she loved to bake and I learned how to make the yummy chocolate chip cookies he likes from her. “She made the best apple pies EVER Johnny and they were so good that when someone would help her out with something they would want to be paid with an apple pie:)” This made him very happy.
I told him that every time he has a big belly laugh I hear her laugh and every time I see his eyes sparkle when he’s having a good laugh I see her.