Gloria Faye Brown Bates/aka Granny Gee… Tommy’s Mother… Tommy’s Not Here Anymore……….
(Around my neck is Tommy’s gold chain, gold nugget he always wore… when Tommy died, he had it on.
His wife gave it back to me… I’ll never forget her doing that, she didn’t have to. The ‘gold nugget’ is my class ring that a jeweler melted down for me to go on a gold necklace for me. It weighs 11 grams… I gave this to my only child… now, he’s gone.
By Gloria Faye Brown Bates/aka Granny Gee
The past couple of weeks have been having an effect on me. I’ve tried to ignore it, not pay attention to commercials portraying it; at the stores around the greeting card aisles, I turn my head; I close my ears; I don’t let my heart feel.
Excepting yesterday, we were in Walmart. Without realizing it, I was waiting for Skip to pay the cashier; I stood watching something playing out almost in front of me. I wasn’t thinking about what I was looking at… it took seconds for me to realize.
By that time, it was too late. The scene playing out in front of my eyes ‘got to me’… how many times have I done it. How many times had Tommy done the same?
I’ve felt all kinds of emotions for the past couple of weeks… why? I began paying attention to myself to ‘see what’s wrong with me’. I’ve felt deep sadness, grief… no words can describe; I’ve felt anger… yes, real anger. I’ve caught myself crying, not realizing it… until I heard myself.
Mother’s Day… I didn’t want to know that it’s next Sunday… this weekend; today is Thursday. I didn’t want to ‘notice’ it’s time for Mother’s Day. I told myself that I don’t care…
Why would I care? I don’t have a child any longer… I’m no longer a mother. It’s like I’ve never was a mother… what do I have left to show that ‘I had a child’? I have one little, beautiful chest with a few things inside… showing I had a son… once. It’s upholstered in ‘rich burgundy-colored material with gold designs’…
I have a heart full of grief, showing that I had a child once… but, you can’t see that. Only if you ‘really looked at my eyes, and cared’… would you see that grief.
If you don’t have a heart… or compassion, you wouldn’t even see that… because you’d think negative things about how my face looked, how bad my eyes looked… you ‘wouldn’t want to see anything about me’… that would touch your heart.
If you didn’t like me, the word ‘mother’ wouldn’t come into your mind… it might be another kind of ‘mother’ come to your mind. That’s your choice; you think what you want… I’ll also, think what I want. It’s not a ‘one way street’… there are some people, I would think that about. I told you… I remind you… I am not perfect… but, regardless, I’m a very good person.
If you opened that chest… you would begin seeing things that would give you information to indicate… okay, this woman must have had a son… an adult son. There are ‘little possessions’ he used to hold with his hands to work with, to piddle around with… inside the chest.
There’s a couple of tee shirts, folded neatly. Hey, look! There’s this thick book… wait, ‘this mother’ is the author of that book! Her son’s face is on the front of the book, wow! Look closer, there’s another little, thin book… it looks like a short story of some kind….
It is… it looks like an introductory to a scary story… looks like she is now, writing book 2 to go with it… like maybe, it’s a ‘never-ending scary story’ she’ll write until the day she dies. I wonder… ‘how many books it will end up being’?
Let me dig a little deeper… I keep seeing this plastic box that I move to the side. Something tells me… that once I open that little box… I will forget to look any farther.
Something tells me that little sage-green plastic box ‘holds something’ so… ‘Tommy’… it might even hurt ‘me, someone who doesn’t know him’… if I look inside. I will push it to the side, because my mind is trying to ‘read the information’ in front of me.
I want to know what ‘this chest’ is about. It’s something to do with this… woman. I think she’s a ‘used-to-be mother’… she’s not anymore; she doesn’t have anymore children.
There are Mother’s Day cards from this person, Tommy… to his mother. They were from past Mother’s Days… this makes my heart feel pain for this woman. The cards meant something to her. Does that look like several logbooks from his trucking days? Is that a ruler? I am sitting here holding a hat; it’s dark in color.
There’s ‘something’ about this hat… as a stranger I don’t know ‘this is the hat’ Tommy had on… when he collapsed on the sand at Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, May 29, 2010 on a late Saturday evening.
I don’t know this was the next to the last trip Tommy would ever take… I don’t know that his… ‘next to last’ trip came ‘almost’ to the time he arrived on… his last trip.
Tommy had this hat on when he collapsed to the sand… this hat fell onto the sand. This was the hat … his wife could see when looking down onto the beach, wondering what the commotion was.
She thought people were ‘building a sand castle’ on the sand… until… she saw …Tommy’s hat laying nearby. How so sad when the thought came to her mind… ‘Tommy, Taban’!
No one thought about how she felt as she began her run to get to his side… to her little son, too. No one knows what this mother, herself… went through. Truthfully, the mother of Tommy never thought about what she went through… until recently. Isn’t that awful? It took so much time to think about what Taban’s mother went through… I’m just ‘now thinking’…
No one knows the pain, grief when she realized her husband was gone, thanking God there were strangers who were really angels, there to protect her little son, and her husband until someone could come… one picked Tommy’s cellphone up, pressed ‘redial’… not knowing the call went to a happy, relieved mother 200 miles away.
Not knowing her son, Tommy, had called just a short time before, to say, “Mama, we are only 7 miles from the hotel”… not knowing this mother looked on the Caller ID, seeing her son’s name… happily answering her phone with a smile… how relieved she was knowing they had made it safely to their vacation spot in the Memorial Day holiday traffic.
Not knowing the call forever changed this mother’s life, not knowing that today, the last thing she remembers is … that she was smiling, knowing that smile followed her into the world of darkness… she almost never made it back from. As a stranger, how could I know?
Oh, the hat… thankfully, I’m a stranger, because I would hold that hat close to my heart just as I know this mother must have done many times… feeling the grief of losing my child, knowing this is one of the last things Tommy had next to his living body… before. I’m glad I don’t know… too much pain ‘here’. Not only that, my heart would feel for his wife, who was a mother, too. For his little son who ran, played with his daddy… who no longer has his daddy.
I go on to lift things, look at them… creating a picture in my mind of a very tall, muscular… good-looking guy with blonde hair (I saw his photo on the book… also, the photos sitting outside the chest in their frames).
I see his kind face, the smile that reached his eyes. I feel I would like to know him (I am going to get the book, read about this mother’s grief… the name of the book ‘I CRY FOR TOMMY’). As I thumbed through this big book… I realized the words are full of pain… I realized that here… I can read about real grief in real words, no sugar-coating. I can read about it quietly, go my way… without really having it in my life… I can learn how it affects a… mother.
I go on until I reach the bottom of Tommy’s Chest… now, it’s time. Time to look at what I sensed is most important, most painful to this mother. Time to look in the sage-green plastic box. I’m sort of afraid this little box will make this stranger cry… I sense it’s going to hurt me to my soul…
I read Tommy’s obituary, I read the different things as I lift them out of the plastic box. On top are dried, cream-colored flowers, just a little bouquet held together with material wrapped at the bottom.
I come to a folded paper with Tommy’s name, and such on it. I know it’s from the funeral that was for him. I can see before my hands pick it up… inside are photos. Oh no! My mind tells me ‘this is what I was sensing… this is what will burn into my mind just as it did this mother, I know it will affect me always’.
Slowly, my hands begin to lift the photos up from the box… my eyes see this young man laying in a coffin… oh no! This is hurting me… think how this mother feels.
I slowly go through the little stack of photos, one by one. I sit and take my time looking at each one. I’m careful not to let my tears fall onto them. I’ll never look at a grieving mother the same… ever again. I’m feeling what a grieving mother feels… and I haven’t even lost a child. I am just a … stranger.
As a stranger, I don’t know that this young man’s mother cried teardrops that were shiny as diamonds… they fell into her son’s hair as she stood at the end where his head lay. I don’t know this mother was standing in a world of darkness that moved ‘each time she moved’, trapping her in it.
I don’t know that this mother took her hand to pat her son’s head just as she’d done many times in the past; patted his shoulder, touched her son’s face… just like she used to do when he got hurt as a child. I don’t know that this mother’s hand….
Smoothed her son’s hair down, her fingers gently touching, moving his hair into place (she didn’t know it was already in place, neat)… until….
Her hand touched a row of … what is that? The tips of her fingers felt a ‘hard ridge’… they traced it… how long did it take before the realization penetrated the shock she was in… to tell her what she was touching? Telling her… this was from the autopsy done on her son… this is where his head was ‘cut’… throwing her into the past when once…
As a young mother… she’d placed a centerblock under the swing so, her little four year old son could climb up on that very swing… anytime he wanted to. How as a young mother, knowing no better, that her son would fall out of the swing to cut his head ‘probably in the same place as ‘this’ cut’? All she thought about… was making it easy for her little son to swing anytime he wanted to.
She didn’t know she’d be standing in the emergency room soon, hearing her son scream as his head was… sewn up! Sewn up… my fingers are touching a … my son’s head has been sewn up… again.
Touching ‘this place’ forever burned a memory into this mother’s fingertips… sometimes, when she touches things… it’s like touching that ‘scar, that ‘cut’…. sometimes, she sits and touches, holds her fingers together… remembering.
As a stranger, I’m so thankful I don’t know this… I would cry my heart out. My heart would go out to this mother… I wouldn’t be able to bear knowing all this.
I don’t want to know this mother’s pain as her fingers began touching, patting her son’s head frantically, trying to let him know she cared for his pain… not thinking about… he never felt the pain… from this ‘cut’. She was crying, her tears fell into his hair to dry permanently there… he went to his grave with his mother’s teardrops in his hair.
For a time, each little teardrop sat on strands of his hair… like little diamonds sparkling in the soft light that filled the room. Like being showcased… a grieving mother’s tears. Soon, they became invisible… each person who looked upon him later, never saw all the teardrops in front of their eyes… each teardrop of this grieving mother became… a permanent part of her son who lay there in that coffin… they are now, mixed with his ashes.
I have been writing as a stranger… trying to ‘see what they would see’ if they came upon Tommy’s Chest. I tried to ‘see, think’ what they would feel. Thankfully… a lot of you can just read, imagine for the time you read, the grief. Then… you can slip quietly back to your life, your precious children… thank God, they are alive, well. Isn’t it … so wonderful?
There are those of you, who are like me… we can’t do that. You’ve probably been experiencing what I have for the past two weeks, the emotions… the not-knowing ‘what’s wrong’… until you realize.
As I watched what was playing out in front of me at Walmart, I felt deep pain. I made myself look… just because I hurt inside, it didn’t mean I couldn’t see, enjoy, feel… the beauty of watching several children, along with their father stand in front of a card rack.
The card rack held the biggest Mother’s Day cards. As they took this one, that one… out of the rack… they were discussing if this is the one they ‘should get for Mama’. The cards measured about two feet tall, a foot wide!
I stood there, letting myself ‘see me years ago’ when I used to stand in front of a card rack to pick ‘my mama’s card’. I imagined… Tommy standing in front of a card rack to pick a card out for ‘his mama’… I know his wife also, helped him. :)))
I stood there… let myself enjoy seeing that family… it slipped up on me… so, all the while it was playing out… I didn’t realize what I was looking at… until…
I’m glad I did, it made me feel happy inside. I think I may have been smiling at them… they never knew I was there… they never knew the impact they made on this grieving mother. I felt… bittersweet.
This Mother’s Day, I think I am going to be okay for the first time since Tommy’s death. I really believe this… not to say I’m not going to feel the deep grief that never leaves my heart. That’s permanently ‘there’….
I feel since writing ‘I CRY FOR TOMMY’… that book made all the difference in my mind, heart, and soul. I know now, that Tommy’s going to never be forgotten. I know his children will one day know him, know me …through my words, my writing.
They will know how much I loved their father, my son. They will know that their Granny Gee always loved them. Maybe they’ll be proud that their Granny Gee writes… published two books. They might be proud… there’s no telling how many more books there’ll be in the future.
I’m in the process of writing Book Two… The Saga Of Victoria Fairchild. I, also, have in mind a coloring book with my own drawings, a book with my ‘doodles’, and maybe another book about Tommy, my grief ‘now’….
I feel somehow, I’ve come to a point in my life where I can accept Tommy’s death, my only child’s death, my son’s death… I have to say it like this… to meet it ‘head-on’. I have to face any pain I feel, not run from it… because if I do… I have to ‘begin the grieving process all over again’.
I’ve been through that… now, I ‘make me listen when I say Tommy is gone, Tommy’s gone forever, I don’t have a child any longer; my child is forever …gone’. I don’t try to be ‘mean’ to myself… I have to live the rest of my life… I need to be okay… so, that I can.
Does it hurt any less to be like this? No, the pain is there… there comes a time when like ‘me’… I ‘know inside’, though my whole world’s changed, my child died… everything is going to be all right. I am going to ‘make it now’.
Does it mean I’m not going to cry, feel upset, feel anger that he’s gone? No… I’m still going to feel all that… but… I’m going to be all right ‘now’.
Does it mean I’ll just forget Tommy ‘now’? No, I won’t forget Tommy ever… that would be like forgetting I have a leg, or arm… a part of myself. All this just means ‘now’… that no matter how bad it hurts, everything is going to be all right.
No matter how bad it hurts ‘now’… everything is going to be all right.
- Give The Pain Room To Go… Until Another Time… (grannyscolorful.wordpress.com)
- What Are You Afraid Of? (grannyscolorful.wordpress.com)
- You Would Know… If I Could Just Tell You (grannyscolorful.wordpress.com)
- Lost In… Grief (grannyscolorful.wordpress.com)