Mom, Me and Jack Daniels

   Yesterday, my cousin Mark sent a very sweet email to our family in remembrance of my mother.  Her birthday was January 7th- one day after her mother’s, my Grammie Dow.  Because my birthday is also in January, my mother and Grammie told me I was special like them.  I believed them and to this day, January is my favorite month.
   To celebrate our January birthdays, my mother and I often “split” a gift.  We took each other out for lunch to celebrate.  In reality, it was just an excuse to sit across a restaurant table and catch up, but it was a nice way to give each other a small gift.  Mark’s email reminded me of how much I miss sharing that birthday lunch, and also reminded me of how I have chosen to celebrate my mother’s life on her birthday.
jack daniels   A week or two before my mother passed away, my nephew Jason brought a small bottle of whiskey to her at the hospice house.  She liked whiskey, and when I was growing up, she and my father often would enjoy a drink before dinner.  My father drank Jim Beam or Jack Daniels on the rocks with soda and my mother drank hers with water.  I never understood how they could drink the stuff.  To me it tastes like medicine, and the only time I could swallow it was when my father mixed a teaspoon with honey and lemon to quiet my coughs.
   It was against the rules to have alcohol in the hospice house (I guess they were afraid that dying people might get drunk and rowdy) and the nurses asked me to take the bottle with me when I left for the evening. I took it to my house and stuck it in the cabinet.
   After Mom died, I decided to drink a toast to her on her birthday, and on January 7, alone in my kitchen, I poured a shot (more like a half shot) of the whiskey and after toasting her, drank the entire thing down in one swallow.  I shuddered for almost fifteen minutes, and while I can’t say I enjoyed it, the warmth that followed the shudder made it tolerable.
   Last year on Mom’s birthday, I did the same thing, with the same reaction of shuddering for a good  fifteen minutes.  Maybe it was the whiskey, but I imagined that I could hear her chuckle at me.  I have to admit that I imagined the warmth that spread from my stomach to my toes was more a hug from my mother than a blast of alcohol.
   You would think that after two years, I would be used missing my mother, but I am not. Not a day goes by that I do not think of her- miss her soft gray eyes and warm embrace.  I see her in my children.  I see her in myself.  But when I feel  my eyes become hot with tears and my heart wrings with loneliness, I remember her last hours.  As she hovered between this life and the next, I saw her exert great effort to raise her arms toward Heaven.  Again and again, she would raise her hands to the sky and then, not strong enough to hold them up, she allowed them to drop to her bed.  I knew that she was transitioning- that her eyes were no longer set on earth and her loved ones here, but instead on the God who had steadfastly guided her through the past eighty-two years.  And as much as I wanted to call her back and beg her to stay a few more hours, I could not.  She had taught me well.  Part of loving is letting go.
   The bottle of whiskey still remains in my cupboard, untouched since January 7, 2012.  Tonight I will again pour a half shot (guess I will never be much of a drinker) and toast my mother, and her mother. Heck- I’ll toast all our mothers, since they are more alike than different.  Perhaps you will join me.  Pour a shot- whiskey, wine, rum…even milk.  It doesn’t matter.  Raise your glass, think of your mother and thank God for the time you had with her.  If you shudder like I will, and listen very carefully, you might hear a tinkle of laughter from on high. That’s Grammie and Mom, waiting for the rest of us.
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3 Comments

  1. Terry O-M

     /  January 7, 2013

    Garrie – I did my shot (and yes I confess it was milk) and I could hear the “Oh, Terry” that she so often said as she was chuckling at me… She was a great lady. Thanks for another great read.

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    • Garrie Madison Stoutimore

       /  January 7, 2013

      I can hear that chuckle. It makes me smile to think of it. Thanks for reading…and sharing.

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  2. Dear Auntie Garrie,
    The love of my family and friends came from our Matriarch. She was the grandest lover of us all. She will always be in my prayers, my heart and certainly everytime I drink whisky I think of her. All I can think of is her. I remember her chuckling at my fear of bugs and giving me a small box and a whole bundle of pins for which to collect the discusting critters. Today just like any other day I am sick all i want is my momma who I am sure learned from my Grammie how to make deeeeeeeeeeelicious chicken and egg noodle soup. I have never in my 22 years nor will I ever meet such a heartwarming and loving person such as my grandmother. She has always made me feel welcome no matter what trouble I have gotten my self into presently. Today I was making chocolate chip cookies and all I could think was “oh boy, Grammie would have loved these right out of the oven!” yum. She was so proud of all her children and grandchildren. I am sure she continues to watch over us as if she were standing right here next to us. I will definitly be drinking whisky in the near future thinking of her wide toothed grin and laughter and i let it slowly fall down my gullet. I will do my best always and forever to show the world her love. I miss you Auntie. We need to do a baking day. Please, and Thank you. Sincerely your favorite niece.
    Alex

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