Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Grief sneaks up

Sometimes it's a flavor or a smell. Other times it's the news. Thanks to a dear, watchful friend, today it's an op-ed. My buddy caught Maureen Dowd's return to the New York Times opinion page, and her wonderful column about her mother, Peggy Dowd. I wasn't expecting the column to be a eulogy as I read along learning about this alert, informed, creative woman who wanted to be a writer.

Tonight I feel honored that Fritzi considered being our mom a meaningful career and performed it with such generosity, practicality, respect, firmness, and love. How did she understand the importance of the Sunday family rituals, and celebrate them with us so consistently? Our family was anchored by the Sunday lunch of crackers and cheese in the living room, and the Sunday evening broiling of steak. We knew what to expect, and what behaviour was expected of us. Sunday was not set aside in the church-going sense, but it was always our special family time.

NASA launched the space shuttle Discovery yesterday morning. Fritzi spent a fabulous Grandma Day in Omaha, January 28, 1986, with precocious three year-old Jeffy, baby Mike, and I. We were so lucky that Mom was able to drive up and spend relaxed days with us often. That particular day, as Mom got settled in her car to drive back to Lincoln, I opened the evening Omaha World-Herald. Challenger had exploded on its launch. I can still see the five p.m. winter sun on the snow as I showed Mom the headline through her car window. Our reactions were mirror images of shock as our sense of a perfect day spent together was unable to accept this news.

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