Summer, Tigger, and an Alternate History for My Mother

It is a lovely summer night, as cool as autumn, and I sat looking at the moon.

The 17-year locusts have come and gone. We heard them on the bike trail, but they didn’t make it to our neighborhood.  All summer it was silent, but now the cicadas are chirping.

I didn’t stay out too long, because it is very dark without a garage light.  Obviously there can’t be a garage light when there is no garage.

Tigger on the porch.

Tigger on the porch.

It has been a difficult summer.  A storm destroyed our garage, family members have been ill, and our lovely 18-year-old cat Tigger died.

I am trying to think of things to be thankful for.

We’re very lucky to live in a beautiful small city.  As I biked around doing errands today, I realized how fortunate we are to be able to bicycle everywhere.  The tree-lined streets and boulevards, Arts-and-Crafts houses in huge yards, stores within a few blocks of where we live, the garden, the fresh sweet corn at the markets, and our plants thriving in the humidity.

But it is also the anniversary of my mother’s death this week.  Anniversaries stir up emotions.  A few weeks ago I felt tired, stressed, and a bit angry that she wasn’t around.  Whom am I supposed to talk to?  I wondered.  Gone with the Wind, her favorite book and movie, provided answers to everything.

“Fight for him, Kat,” she said years back when I was having marital problems.  (That’s pure Scarlett, don’t you think?)  And she confided that she had not wanted the divorce from my dad.

Mom. the college graduate.

Mom. the college graduate.

The remembrance of my mother’s pragmatism and the stress of Tigger’s death have changed my perspective. I need to learn acceptance.  Perhaps there is an afterlife.  Who am I to say there isn’t, though I have said that.   A little bit of religious philosophy wouldn’t hurt. I hope my mother and Tigger got to walk, or in Tigger’s case, race down the tunnel of white light before they passed on.  I love the idea of an afterlife where my mom and Tigger get to hang out.

Thinking of my mother’s love of her dogs, a Scottie, a poodle, and a Pekingese, also helped me out of my panic yesterday.  She grew up on a farm and understood the cycle of life.

The truth?  I lived with Tigger longer than I lived with my mother. Cats are people, too.

My mother compensated for her dogs’ deaths by putting little china figures of dogs all over her house.  I DO have some cat mugs.

Thinking of my mother as the anniversary of her death draws near, I wish her a happy afterlife, and I also wish I could give her an alternate life, as Doris Lessing gave her parents in the novel Alfred and Emily.

She told me many times that she wanted to be a kindergarten teacher, but she stayed home and majored in political science because the education program was at another university.

I wish she had been a teacher.  She was a gifted woman, and I’m sure she would have been good in the classroom.  It would also have given her something to do after the divorce.   At the very least, it would have helped if my grandfather and uncle had given her a job in the family  business, but it never occurred to them.   She worked as a clerk in an office, and later, after health problems developed, got a small allowance from the family.

I think she was contented, but I wish she had not had to be alone so much.

She met Tigger and liked her, as well as a dog person can like a cat person.

A  link between Tigger and my mom:  Tigger liked to sit on a box of childhood memorabilia my mom gave me a few years ago.  I am going to put it away now that Tigger is gone.  In it  are my troll dolls, my Tammy and Pepper dolls (Tammy was a more wholesome Barbie, and Pepper her little sister), my first communion dress, a beaded purse I’ll never carry, a Barbie watch, and…)

Goodness, did a girl ever have so much!

How I wish I had brought home more of my mom’s things.  I have her yearbooks and some photographs, but perhaps I should have hung on to her china dogs.  These things become a little clearer as time goes on.

5 thoughts on “Summer, Tigger, and an Alternate History for My Mother

  1. It’s funny how as we get older the things our mothers said and did become more important, not less. Hold on to the things you have from her. Perhaps buy a small china dog in her memory? Or a cat in Tigger’s memory? My mother collected panel thistle pattern glass and eventually had enough pieces to set an entire table. Each of us took some pieces after she died, and when I look at mine I see her again, how she loved to go into antique and Junque shops looking for “her” glass, how carefully she handled it and her pride in setting out her clear class to display on a colored tablecloth.

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  2. It’s been difficult for you, particularly losing Tigger just now. I don’t know that keeping lots more of your mother’s stuff would have been necessarily good – I am currently shedding years of books and possessions and it’s liberating. I have very few things that belonged to my beloved grandmother, but that doesn’t stop me still remembering her with love. But you have good things – a nice place to live, a partner in life, books and friends. Trouble is, we often forget the everyday good things – I know I do!

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  3. Nancy, I do like the idea of buying a china dog (and putting it somewhere the cats can’t play with it!). Yes, it’s not so much the things, as being reminded of our mothers. Panel thistle glass sounds absolutely beautiful.

    Karen, yes, it’s the people (and animals) that matter. I hope my mother’s things went to a “good home” via auction. 🙂

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  4. Oh, dogs are so lovely! I’ve never had one, but I’ve grown to love the dogs in the neighborhood. I miss Tigger so much I can’t make myself go into our official “computer room” because she liked to sit on the modem. A good thing my computer is a laptop…

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