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Nadworny: Warm Memories

It’s been about a year since my Mom passed away, and as the weather heats up this summer, it’s hard not to think about her. She loved hot weather and yet she stayed in Vermont for more than 60 years. She lived a good long life and was able to stay in her home until the end.

I’ll admit that the last few years were tough, even though I’d been through this once before when my Dad passed and we all knew what was coming. But I have to say that this last year without her has been one of the hardest years of my life.

She was one of the main reasons I moved back to Vermont, even back to the U.S. after 14 years in Sweden. My Dad passed away before I had kids and that thought disturbed me so much that I wanted to make sure my kids would grow up knowing my Mom. And did they ever!

From the moment they were born, my kids had a special relationship with their grandma. She played with them, laughed with them, taught them and spoiled them. Whenever there was a dispute, she always took their side no matter what. In turn, they smothered her with hugs, included her in their lives, and entertained her with their talents.

What struck me the most was the way that my Mom looked at those kids. She gazed at them with pure enjoyment and adoration. I think they could physically feel the love emanating from that gaze. Everyone, at some point in his or her life, should be lucky enough to be looked at like that.

Obviously, it’s not just the kids that make me miss my Mom. She had a strong, loving relationship with my wife as well. Living so close to her, s he was a critical member of our nuclear family. Along with my dad, she was the one I shared my stories with and kept retelling all of our old ones to. We laughed and teased and drove each other crazy, of course.

Throughout the ups and downs, we always made sure to hug each other tight when we saw each other. During the last years, when we knew where things were headed, my Mom and I made extra sure to say the last few things we had left unsaid, to say out loud the words we knew inside.

Now that she’s gone, we’ve spent the last year missing her hugs, her laugh, her love and yes, even her criticisms. At home we keep her alive by telling stories about her and imagining, with great accuracy, how she would’ve reacted to the things we do. Like the summer weather, the warmth of her love for us continues to surround us and nurture us even as we ache and long for her physical presence. This year without Mom has been one of continual aching. And I sincerely hope that that feeling never, ever goes away.