Updated: Mar 16

Sorry Mom,

Your finger-fluted, blue-glass vase broke tonight. We were prepping the walls for repainting, and while removing nails the Irish drum bounced off its hook and hit your vase. Josh tried to catch it, but he was on a ladder and couldn’t get to it in time. I heard the crash, and my heart sank. I knew what it was before I asked.

I remember when you came home with it; I was twelve. You had been on an adventure with Sister June. Since you had been made Relief Society President (the leader of our congregation’s women’s organization within the Mormon Church) you had been charged to find every sister in the boundaries. And because we lived in the eastern part of the United States, the congregation boundaries (aka ward) stretched across three states; it was no easy task.

I waited by the door for you to get home. You always had the best stories from your adventures, like the time you found that woman named Dorcas Crow. Who on earth would name their child Dorcas? She was memorable in an alarming sort of way, and not just because of her odd name. Even though she’d been baptized LDS, or Mormon, her home resembled a Satan Worshiping Den. You said, she had a mass supply of doilies with an equal amount of black candles. Who decorates like that? Still, that wasn’t the most memorable thing about her. I’ll never forget the Sunday she came to church.

It was the first Sunday of the month called Fast and Testimony Meeting, meant to be a faith building and promoting experience, where members share their testimonies over the pulpit instead of the usual assigned speakers, but not that day, at least that’s not what I got out of it. The thing I remember most, was when Dorcas or Sister Crow (being quite spry for a woman crowned with white and grey hair) took the microphone reserved for those who could not walk up to the podium. She paced back and forth in front of all three hundred or so of us throwing her arms in the air, voice raised, as she gave us all the flavor of a Southern Baptist hellfire and damnation sermon. I kept looking up at the bishop waiting any minute for him to step down and relieve her, but he let it go on for several minutes (eight or ten in fact). He must have been asleep.

I’m certain all bishops develop the skill to sleep and not look like they’re sleeping, unlike my boys, who snore, and myself (who fell out of a chair in Sunday school once when my kids were tiny). I had three boys under the age of four; I was exhausted, and so are bishops. They rise early, work all Sunday, work all week, and when the rest of us are home having dinner with family, they’re out serving other people still.

Every time I think of that woman, I get chills. I swear she was the real deal, a Bonafede witch. she made the hairs on my neck stand up when she walked by. But nothing scared me more than the time Anna Fazenbaker. showed up pregnant on our doorstep with her boyfriend armed with a shotgun. She hadn’t been to church in years, but the church was still sending her checks for food and whatnot. The bishop cut it off, after seeing her inactivity, and they showed up on our step with a very large gun. You ushered me upstairs, stepped outside to speak to Anna, while someone called the police; I don’t know whom, but I’m glad they did. You were so brave, and they were relentless. They would not leave until you gave them money. Clearly if they were active members they would have known, you had none to give. They were at the wrong house. They should have terrorized the bishops. I can’t remember how or when it ended, but it dragged on into the night hours, and Dad sent us to bed. I didn’t worry after the police showed up. You always were one tough cookie.

You’d been gone all day, but you were so happy when you got home. You and June had found the Wisteria Glass Factory Outlets and couldn’t pass up the chance to check it out. You came home with a clear blue vase twelve inches tall and three inches wide. The sides had thick finger flutes all the way to the top; it was ugly, but the color was the most tranquil ocean blue. That was its one redeeming quality—and it was enough too.

It was more a symbol of a good time in your life after a handful of years filled with devastation, heartache, betrayal. What’s worse that rough patch ended with your mother’s death. You were her only daughter, and no matter how you tried to take care of her and bring her to our home, she didn’t want to be taken from hers. You respected her choice and her desire even though it hurt. But your oldest brother and his wife put her in a nursing home an hour plus even farther from us. You would load Steve and I with coloring books, crayons and snacks and make the three-hour drive to go see her as often as possible.

I know now why you loved that vase, and why it meant so much to you. It was a shared love you had with your mother, dishes, and it was a symbol of a time when you were beloved by so many people for years of dedicated service. The sisters of that congregation dearly loved you and wept when we moved, all but one—the bishop’s wife. She tried to get you released, by saying terrible things about you to her husband and the stake president the regional leader. She wanted to be the Relief Society president. What a b---! That vase reminded you of the sweet joy and crazy adventures you had, not the severe social anxiety and a strong aversion to leadership Sister Bruerton, left you with. Being the Relief Society President was a time you spoke of with joy, and that vase was a tangible fruit.

I’m sorry it broke. I kept it in my window for three years after you died, but I brought it out for Thanksgiving because I missed you, and it was like you were there. I put it on the armoire so I could see the morning sunshine pass through its marine tinted glass; it lit up like the sea’s waves crashing on the shore, so I left it there. You used to drive to the ocean often when you lived in Seattle. You said the ocean was powerful and filled you with peace. You were right. I too love the ocean and it brings me peace.

Your heart was heavy; people had dealt you ugly blows--people who were supposed to love and cherish you. You said the ocean waves washed away the pain. The sea reminded you there were things bigger than your own troubles. You tried to let them go. I love you, Mom. Thank you for trying. It’s not easy for anyone who cares as deeply as you did and was hurt as often.

I missed you a lot today. A piece of me broke with that vase, but it was nice to visit with you, feel you close, and remember things. I hope this doesn’t become the new norm, and you only visit when your mementos break. Your treasures keep you around, and I’d like very much to feel your presence more often, please. I miss you.


your daughter.

16 views0 comments