– PEGGY CROWLEY CLUTZ –
It was a beautiful, warm, sunny Mother’s Day, and the one-hour drive to visit my mother seemed to fly by. When I arrived, the nurses had me wait outside her room while they finished giving her a sponge bath. I had a car full of her stored spring/summer clothes and was ready to make the seasonal switch, which she loved to watch. “You’re so good at doing this for me,” she always said with a smile and a little giggle. I loved doing it for her as it meant she had made it through another season with another to look forward to.
After her bath, she sat in her wheelchair ready to give advice on which clothes she would like donated and which should go to the dry cleaners or wash machine. She had always been a “clothes horse” so her closets were jammed, meaning every year we went through a culling process. The one constant was my father’s red button-down Perry Como sweater from the 1960s, which she always had me place next to her blouses.
I made the trip back and forth to the car taking and bringing clothes for more than two hours and was ready for a rest. Her chairs were piled high with her spring clothes and she looked happy to be doing something so routine and normal; like she was in their bedroom at home and Dad was around the corner reading a book or making a pot of soup in the kitchen.
After lunch together in the dining room, we went back to her room where she rested on her bed and I began placing her slacks in one area of the closet, blouses in another, shoes in their cubbies, etc. all the while chatting away. I soon realized I was talking to myself and turned to see her chin resting on her chest; she was fast asleep. I went over and pulled the covers up over her hands, kissed her forehead, wished her a Happy Mother’s Day and whispered that I loved her and would see her soon.
A week later she was gone, and my sister-in-law and I were cleaning out her closet deciding which outfits to go to Goodwill, toss, or maybe include in our own wardrobes – she was that up-to-date on styles.
I still have some coats and sweaters that I wear and as I put them on, always make a point to say hello to her and thank her for keeping me warm, wishing through my tears she was in the other room making her famous Hungarian goulash, Boston cream pie, or fudge.