I sat down to write something light-hearted about gobblers, cranberry sauce, and family gatherings in the holiday season. After all, it's that time of year, and already people are beginning to celebrate.
But I got stuck right there. Something — a sadness — came over me. I think I know why. My mother died last summer and, for the first time in my 68 years, the holidays will come and go without her.
I honestly thought I had come to grips with her passing, even though there are still times when I reach for the phone to call her. Silly me. She's not there.
I know that. I have told myself that, at 89, she had lived a good, long, mostly happy life. She had accomplished many great things, hadn't she? Raised five children. Traveled the world. Wrote a book.
Helped hundreds of people — maybe thousands — through church ministry and volunteer work.
Besides, no one lives forever, right? Right. But these paltry rationalizations are worth exactly squat. I still long to hear her voice. I long to see her smile. I miss her funny or thoughtful reminiscences about her youth, different family members I barely knew, and the antics of her beloved grandchildren.
I got stuck on these memories. My thoughts wander. Human memory is a strange thing. Last week, for example, was the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. It's one of three events where those of us who are old enough are able to remember precisely where we were and what we were doing at the time.
The other two events also involve death: the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the event known simply by the month and day it happened — 9/11. Though relatively distant in time, we remember.
When President Kennedy was slain, I was a freshman at Northern Illinois University. I remember taking the short walk from one of my classes and stopping by the Student Union to meet some friends.