You’re here and then you’re gone. I can still feel the texture of my mother’s skin.
On the morning of March 9, on what had been my mother’s birthday for a long 97 years, as my husband wrapped his arms around me while still dreamily lying in bed, I uttered those three lines...Life is so strange…you’re here and then you’re gone…I can still feel the texture of my mother’s skin. He replied understandingly, “yep…uh huh.” So true.
One of my fondest memories is shown in the photograph above. When I contacted our aging family friend Lou Weber and asked to view his scattered collection of slides from our days in the Catskills, I could not have been happier with the picture he had taken capturing the sheer joy on the faces of my parents. I had been hoping to find even one glimpse that would be proof of my vision of my father lifting my mother in excitement after he made the long trek “up the mountains” for weekends and during his vacation time from work.
My parents, with my three older brothers and me, spent years in the summertime at the bungalows in the foothills of the Catskills in the 1950s and ‘60s socializing with Lou, his wife Sarah and others. The friendship continued with visits to one another’s homes, theirs in Brooklyn and ours over the bridge in Union County, New Jersey. I knew if anyone had the picture I was looking for, it would be Lou. Rather amazingly, and ecstatically, I was correct.
Rewardingly, my mother lived to see that telling print, which I had converted from a slide. Two articles I wrote for Catskills publications included that picture, which stayed only in my memory for so many years. The first was published in the Sullivan County Democrat (March 10, 2015 - the day after my mother, had she lived, would have been 100) and another appeared in the River Reporter (June 22, 2016). While many who read the pieces commented on the joy they saw expressed in the old photograph, I also thought about the sense of touch and being lifted into the air by my father’s strong arms.
Touch is such an underrated sense. The night before my mother-in-law’s passing, I lovingly caressed the skin on her arm as she lay in bed almost coma-like with a room freshener spewing a fine mist of a pleasing scent in her direction. When we visited my husband’s brother, bedridden with multiple sclerosis, one of the last memories we have is when my husband told our children, “you can touch Uncle Jeffrey’s arm.” Remembering their excitement to do that and to have that human feel gives us comfort.
Days before my own mother’s passing in 2012, my husband and I went on vacation with our children, but not before cooking my mother chicken soup, making her matzah balls and kissing her on the face. You could say it was a delicious send-off.
Life is so strange…but the good thing is that although she was here and now she is gone, I can still remember the feel of the soft texture of my mother’s skin.