Sunday, March 3, 2013

Speak My Name


On Wednesdays Mom and I delivered Meals on Wheels around town. Since I was the youngest of three kids born in four years, my hobbies consisted of running errands and going to the dry cleaners rather than taking music or art classes. I still kind of like errands. One of our last stops was at Leighton White’s house. He lived alone in raised brick rambler with a large, meticulously kept green yard. The peacock blue carpet in his living room was vacuumed with precision, lines all going the same direction, and not a speck of dust settled on the few figurines that sat on his shelves.

He could have been 60 or 40 or even 35, because I was only a little girl, and to me old was old. Most of our deliveries were quick, but the stop at Leighton’s house took a little longer because he’d want to chat a while. My mom understood that with some of our clients, the visiting was more important than the food we delivered. Each week Leighton, a developmentally delayed adult, would talk about his late mother. “Did you ever know a Miriam White?” he would ask us. We told him we hadn’t. He told us blue was her favorite color, “Like the blue in this rug.” She loved the tomatoes he grew in the yard. He still kept the grass neat the way she liked.

I wondered why he repeated himself so much. “Did his mom just die?” I asked my mother. “No, she’s been gone for many years” she replied. Our brief visits became a way for Leighton to keep his mother’s memory alive, just as his orderly way of living was his way of showing her, if she could still see him, that he remembered the way she had raised him to live. It could be that raising Leighton had been one of the greatest worries of her life. Or her greatest joy. Probably both. She may have fretted, “What will happen to him I die?” But every day Leighton was getting up, putting on his crisp navy blue farmer’s work shirt and pants and continuing to live, despite missing her terribly.

In speaking her name aloud  into the silence of his empty house, and  to a housewife and a young girl who stopped by, Leighton was not only able to celebrate who she was, but also who HE was in relation to her. He was still Miriam White’s son. That was important.

You may know me as Anna the blogger, the sister, the friend, but when you  stop me in the grocery store to talk about Jack, or when you use his name in a comment,  it helps me to still be “Jack’s mom.” Thank you.

79 comments:

Karen (formerly kcinnova) said...

You are Anna the blogger at "An Inch of Gray" and Margaret's mom and Jack's mom.

Also, when I see Doritos, I think of Jack.

Sybil@PeaceitallTogether said...

I love that you included that second photo. You are looking at Jack in a way that only his mom can. Beautiful!

Theresa said...

You will ALWAYS be Jack & Margaret's mom. xoxo

Cassie @ Primitive & Proper said...

very sweet and well said.

julia said...

"Jack." (said aloud in front of my computer screen)

mgh said...

Anna this makes me think... I used to supposed that when I knew other parents only as "Jack's mom" or someone only knew me as "Emma's mom" that we really didnt know each other at all. It seemed that we could hardly call each other friend if we didnt even know each other each other by name.
But, I've just changed my mind. It means I know something very special.
love you!

Rene Foran said...

Dear Jack's Mom,
Every time I hear or see or even say "Nothing is impossible with God" I can't help but think of Jack. Those two. Forever linked in my brain. I know he would think that was cool.

Kate said...

Always Jack's mom, always.

Thrift Store Mama said...

I work with a woman who's son died last year at 17. She's a contractor, so I only see her once a month or so. I don't know if it's the right thing to do or not, but I've read enough blog entries that make me think that it might be the right thing. As we chat through the day, I try to find a way to ask something about her children.

Ellen aka Ellie said...

My husband tells me he knows my parents through the stories they tell. They will always be my parents.

I knew you when you were "Jake and Molly's" mom, and I loved the stories you told. Now, your stories are just as true, more painful, and more beautiful. You are Jack and Margaret's mom,always will be.

I tell your story, Jack's story to so many people. I don't tell it because he died--though that's part of it--I tell it because he lived.

The Pringles picture quacked me up.

bernthis said...

I have the chills. This is so beautifully written, as always.

signed,

A friend of Jack's mom xoxo

Cristie Ritz King, M. Ed said...

I think of you as Jack's mom because you help me to know Jack, whom I'd never know without your stories here. Sharing a kid's beautiful stories with the world-what's makes you more of a mom than that?

Laura at Ms. Smartie Pants said...

Today I visited the Oklahoma City Memorial. It was so touching and overwhelming to see the lives of all of those lost. I pray that those people who have lost loved ones are surrounded by those who have your wisdom.

The Empress said...

You will always bee Ann See, Jack's mom, to me.

xo

Bluebird49 said...

Absolutely know what you mean. When Sherry died, people seemed to be afraid to "speak her name" to me.It was one of the worst tings I missed--she's never really been "gone" to me--but people just do not know how to handle tings like ti well. I think Leighton's mom must have worried Sounds like he found a wonderful way to honor his mom's memory--just like you are doing with Jack! What a story you have given us--out of your tragedy, you have inspired so many, Anna. It's not the way we'd like to inspire, but how can we question what God has planned for us many many ages ago? :),
Sherry's mom

Anonymous said...

Some people are able to talk easily about heaven. I am not; doesn't mean I don't think it's real, but it feels like how Laura describes the memorial in Oklahoma City; overwhelming. Still, I imagine that having both your mother and Jack in heaven must be meaningful for your family in some way that I probably couldn't understand, but that is important.

Laurie said...

Your hand on his leg is what I see, in that second picture. So what I would see from my mom, so what I never want to forget as I age.

Always his mom, cruelly not in this physical space, but always.

The Bipolar Diva said...

You'll ALWAYS be Jack's mom, not one thing can change that. It's forever.

Mrs Changstein said...

Just wanted to tell you something that happened this week. My son Kaden, who is Margaret's age, out of the blue prayed for your family at dinner, that God would comfort you in your grief & living life with Jack in heaven. (I keep my Jack magnet on my fridge - cuz if it fell my car, I'd be devastated. My boy & I talk about Jack every now & then - especially with the whole Lego love thing in common.) XO cindy

Arnebya said...

That photo, and the way you're looking at Jack? It's beautiful.

Christy said...

Oh Anna! Tears on a Monday morning! Of course you'll always be Jack and Margaret's mommy! What a lovely post.

Lori said...

Someone once said that we all die twice...once when our physical bodies pass and the second the last time someone speaks our name...Jack lives in your heart where you are always his mom. Your writing and sharing about him keeps him alive in all of us who know his story. Much love to Jack and Margaret's mom and dad.

Kara said...

My youngest brother has a developmental disability, and I love being Erik's sister. I love that you visited Leighton, and that you remember it.

I also love that you are Jack's mom. When I talk about you to my kids I always say, "Anna, Jack's mom..." and they always know who I'm talking about. In fact, when I am really irritated with them I will just say, "My butt" to get us all laughing. So, thanks for that, Jack! xo

Jen said...

Thank you for posting. Our dear friend passed away last night, 32 years old. Pray for her husband Scott and her five small children. I am reading your post on how to help a grieving family. So helpful. Thank you.

Amy McC said...

Love mgh's comments (and your story)! It does give one another perspective. I would much rather be called "Shane's mom" than not be known at all.

Lady Jennie said...

This tugged at my heart strings in such a way! The thought of that gentleman living with such precision - living better than I do, I'm sure. And the way you brought it back to Jack.

sniff

Steph said...

Thank you, Jack and Margret's mama, for your achingly beautiful writing.

Anonymous said...

Jack's mom is awesome!

Rach said...

YES! Exactly!

"I don't want to make you sad/cry." No, really, please use their name and talk to me about them so I know they were here and you remember them and love them like I do.

What a beautiful story, Anna.

Hugs to you.

Teach said...

It is so strange that I have never met you, and I couldn't even tell you how I found your blog. But I feel like I know Jack. I think about him randomly throughout my week. My son is 14 and in the 8th grade. He resembles Jack in some ways. I know you would give anything for Jack to be 14 and in the 8th grade. That in itself makes me so appreciative to be Cullen's mom. God bless you, Jack's mom!

Anne said...

Just perfectly said.

OSMA said...

So often I think of Jack throughout my days and want to shoot you an email telling you so. I don't bc maybe that's weird or sounds weird or is just not what you need. But after reading this post I see maybe it is exactly what you need.

I am another mama touched to the core by your Jack, your stories of being Jack and Margaret's mom, and now I know it's ok to remind you of that.

xoxo

OSMA said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

@Jen, God bless Scott and her children. I ask God to help you at this very sad time, and especially to be mindful to take good care of you, too, because you have also suffered a serious loss. I hope there will be some moments of lightness or peace in the weeks ahead. I'm so very sorry.

Lisa C said...

This post spoke to me so clearly. I have a friend who lost her mom five years ago to cancer and she brings up her name constantly. I'm usually open to the short chat but a few other ladies in our get togethers are not so understanding and it frustrates me to see them be so callous. I think I'll have to bookmark this post for future conversation.

By the way? I only see you as a "mom" xoxoxo

Anonymous said...

Dear Jack's Mom:

You are such a beautiful, strong mom. I can just feel that Jack is watching over you...beaming with pride and telling anyone and everyone that will listen, "That's MY mom! Isn't she great?!" I think of you all often, pray for you daily and am grateful for your candor and gift of writing.

Julie Warwick said...

I first found you due to Jack's tragic passing. You will always be Jack and Margaret's amazing mom to me. And by the way, I am the coordinator for the Meals on Wheels program in Caldwell, Idaho and I would like to thank you for summing up so beautifully what delivering for this great organization really means....caring about other people.

Anonymous said...

You most definitely will always be rememered as Jack and Anna's mom. I LOVE the way your are looking at Jack in the second photo. It is pure love and joy.

Hugs, NoVa mom Jen

Saeed Zia said...

Many people want to See Sport Cars of International and beautiful Sport Racing Cars, The Best and Latest Sport Racing Car HyperSport Car, Sport Vehicles, Most Popular Concept Cars, upcoming racing cars and more strange vehicles with pictures and Information
WorldLatestVehicles.Com

starnes family said...

You always have the right words, Anna.

Anonymous said...

This is lovely, and what so many of us need to hear. I imagine that the tendency to avoid bringing up a painful subject is done out of courtesy or respect or, more likely, uncertainty. But this is helpful to know. I guess too, when in doubt, just ask?

I think of Jack daily, Anna. I placed a reminder in my bedroom; a rare bird hangs from my mirror. It's a Christmas ornament, of all things, and was a gift from one of my favorite relatives. It's a wooden blue-footed booby--a rare bird that hails from the Galapagos. In fact, it may only BE in the Galapagos. You can't get much rarer than that. The blue feet and its rare birdiness remind me daily of you and your own rare bird, Jack.

love,
jbhat

Kerry S. said...

Dear Anna,
I thought about you and Jack this weekend. I was actually away on a little trip to celebrate my son's 8th B-day. I remembered your story about being one day early for camp and how Jack got a big grin and you had that extra time together. We were at Great Wolf Lodge in VA (our first time there). I have no idea if that was a favorite place for Jack but I thought of him there and you. I thought about sending you a message this morning but hesitated (I sent you some books once but we don't really know each other). It was kind of like you and Mrs. Davidson - I hesitated to say something. But then I saw the e-mail telling me you had made a post and once I read it I knew I needed to comment. You both were in my thoughts and heart this weekend and still are today.

Theresa O said...

And wow, was he ever lucky to have a mom like you!! I think of you always...and Jack...Spring is coming, the rare birds will be out soon....and there will be reminders of Jack everywhere!!! Looking forward to it!!! xo

Laura said...

I love Jack's Mom.

Lisa said...

This post is lovely, as are you. I am sure that Jack is smiling down on you.

Geri said...

Your ability to verbalize things like this, and tie a story from the past into today, is such a gift. Thank you, Jack's mom. From Nick's mom :)

mollysmith222 said...

I go down that road everyday on my way home from work, I see the ribbons and the flowers. I have my magnet on my car and I always always see someone with the same magnet in our town. I shed tears more times than not, passing your neighborhood. Since my dads death over the summer, I cry a lot in the car (only time I feel I am really alone). I can't imagine how often you cry but I am sorry and to me you are always Jack's mom and the amazing mom in my town that I always hold close in my prayers. I didn't know Jack but I feel like I do. Thank you for sharing him.

Anna See said...

@Jen, I am so sorry for your loss and the pain that your sweet friends will endure. Praying!

ashley said...

Anna, this rang so true. My "second mom" lost her only son many years ago in a car accident. She has always said that hearing his name (Mac) is music to her ears. Thinking of you, Jack, Margaret, and Tim...

~Ashley in Louisiana

Maggie May said...

I feel that I'd want the same. Out loud recognition that you being Jack's mother never stops.

Sharon @ Elizabeth & Co. said...

The first photo made me smile. The second photo brought tears to my eyes ... the look and the grasp you have on both Jack and Margaret. But Anna, your words just touched my heart. We will forever and always be Jack's mom.

Salvimom said...

You are a Godsend to us Anna. Your writing immediately touches our souls! Thank you for being you, and especially thank you for being Jack's mommy. Although his life was cut way too short, I am so thankful God blessed him with you as his mom during that time. I know he knew true love because of this. God bless you always. Take care.

Ury

Gigi said...

You will always and forever be Jack and Margaret's mom....always.

Debby@Just Breathe said...

Loved the story you shared. This weekend I got a comment from a blogger that they mentioned me in their blog. Well to my surprise it was my For Your Tears blog and they had the picture of Jack's tree with the link. That tree has grown do big, I was just taking pictures of it this weekend. Also Jack's owl tag still hangs in the Norfolk Pine tree. ((HUGS))

LauraBeth said...

Sending (((hugs))) to Jack mom and dad and sister.

Ps, my kids don't really even know you as Anna... They pretty much only know you as "Jack's mom." We chat about you and your family whenever we spot a Jack magnet while out and about. Last week, we followed another car with a Jack magnet all the way down 123 into DC and out to Maryland! I have to think that maybe, in their car, they were also talking about the other car (mine) with the Jack magnet and blue ribbons on it... Speaking Jack's name... Loving your family...

With love from the other side of town...

ella said...

This post made me cry at my desk this morning, but I'm just now getting a chance to respond. Yes, yes, YES you are, and always will be, Jack's mom. I promise to speak his name for the rest of my days.

Diana Lesjak said...

Beautiful Anna... Jack's Mom.

Anonymous said...

As always your words touch me. The pictures are just lovely and heartbreaking at the same time.

Thank you for sharing.

Anonymous said...

I loved this. Not only because I am the mother of a developmentally delayed child and my heart breaks thinking about the kindness you and your mom showed this man. I often wonder what happens when her dad and I and her brother Jack are not there. I pray for beautiful people like you to care about her.

Not only because I share your story with everyone I know - mostly with my brother and his wife who lost their son two months before you lost Jack.

Mostly because I always knew you as Jack's Mom. From the first time Glennon wrote about you and how even at his service, you continue to mother him. I strive to be that mother who mothers so fiercly. XO

Lynnette said...

Anna -- you not only are Jack's mom you are also an INCREDIBLE role model for mothers everywhere. The CJ Foundation for SIDS has a feature on their facebook page where they "speak the name" of a baby who died from SIDS each week as a way to witness the fact that a precious child spent time on this earth and mattered to their family. Today let me say " Jack" "Jack's Mom" and "Barrett" to signify that all of you MATTER to me. Big hugs coming your way

Marissa said...

Dear Jack's mom,
Every time we go to Taco Bell and I see the Dorito taco, I think of both you and Jack.

Mindy Venuto said...

yes...always jack's mom. :-)

Sharmaine A said...

Hi Anna,

Thank you again for letting us be here for you.

I was reading the Lulu and Leo Fund Facebook page and came across this beautiful passage by Reverend Jonathan Kitto. I hope you you like it, because reading it gave me the same reflective feeling I get when I read your blog.

"Heaven may not be more than the memories we have or the love that we feel. But if it is just that, then it is pretty amazing and worthy of honoring. You must continue to love. You must continue to be loved. It is your love-bound obligation not to let your capacity for love wither, but to hold up what you gained and let the love that you have had flourish. Flourish with each other, flourish with Nessie, flourish with those yet to come and those that are and have been. Nothing will erase the pain, and nothing should. The depth of your pain is a measure of the depth of your love."

Thinking of you and sending love.

Leire said...

They've told me Jack's mom rules!...it's true that she wears old fashioned shoes..but..you should hear her talk about Jack, she glows!!

Oh..I've been told that if you hear her laugh you can be hypnotized!

:)

Kiri said...

So true. I will never stop being Zoe's mum, I hate to think that in the future I will meet people who don't know that is my real identity.
Trying hard to keep her memory alive and it may have been from your blog that I got this idea?:
http://retrogirlandchemokid.blogspot.co.nz/p/the-angel-zoe-kindness-project.html

Sajid Khan said...

Top Ten PTC Sites Ever which you can make money online with just clicking, Best upgrade plans to make upto 10 to 15 Dollars daily without any Registration or MemberShip Charges
You can join any time from your home, just visit the website and start earning from home
Probux.Com(Best PTC Site)

Leire said...

Dear Anna,
I never met you personally, but I had the opportunity to get to know you a little bit virtually.
Through you I met 'Anna's son' JACK. It's true that you are his mommy but it's also true that Jack is Anna's son. I feel he would be proud. I am proud to be my parents daughter.
Love,
Leire

erinlovesjolene said...

I think of you and your family (whom I have never met a lot). I think of Jack every time I get something in the mail from Samaritan's Purse. It makes me smile.

Halfway Between Hopes and Dreams said...

Well said. I absolutely get that people don't want to upset those who have lost children so they choose not to bring up the child's name. But when they do say the child's name or ask a question about him or her, it is such a gift. In that moment, they allow that child to be present in our lives, to live, so to speak. You will always be Jack's mom and Margaret's mom.

Soldierz_wife said...

"Beam Me Up", by Pink.

There's a whole 'nother conversation going on
In a parallel universe.
Where nothing breaks and nothing hurts.
There's a waltz playin' frozen in time
Blades of grass on tiny bare feet
I look at you and you're lookin' at me.

Could you beam me up,
Give me a minute, I don't know what I'd say in it
I'd probably just stare, happy just to be there, holding your face
Beam me up,
Let me be lighter, I'm tired of being a fighter,
I think a minute's enough,
Just beam me up.

Saw a blackbird soarin' in the sky,
Barely a breath I caught one last sight
Tell me that was you sayin' goodbye,
There are times I feel the shiver and cold,
It only happens when I'm on my own,
That's how you tell me I'm not alone

Could you beam me up,
Give me a minute, I don't know what I'd say in it
I'd probably just stare, happy just to be there, holding your face
Beam me up,
Let me be lighter, I'm tired of being a fighter,
I think a minute's enough,
Just beam me up.

In my head I see your baby blues
I hear your voice and I, I break in two and now there's
One of me, with you

So when I need you can I send you a sign
I'll burn a candle and turn off the lights
I'll pick a star and watch you shine

Just beam me up,
Give me a minute, I don't know what I'd say in it
I'd probably just stare, happy just to be there, holding your face
Beam me up,
Let me be lighter, I'm tired of being a fighter,
I think, a minute's enough,
Beam me up
Beam me up
Beam me up
Could you beam me up.

This is a beautiful song... You should look it up. :)

Reenie said...

beautiful Jack's Mom.... just beautiful.

xo

Tricia said...

I use my daughter's name as often as possible. Hoping to let people know I love hearing Her name. And I love being known as Jaci's mom. You will always be Jack's mom. God bless

tracy@sellabitmum said...

Oh Anna. Jack has an amazing mom.

Erica said...

I just recently found your blog and I love reading your perspective on mothering and life. Beautifully said.
Erica

www.beautifullifemadeeasy.blogspot.ca

LauraBeth said...

Anna... wanted to share what I overheard about 20 minutes ago. My daughter was giving the "grand tour" to a playmate over for a playdate. In the kitchen we have our picture of Jack up on the cabinet. From the other room, I heard the friend ask "Who is that?" And my daughter simply responded "That's Jack. He's our friend."

Patricia said...

You will always be Jack and Margaret's mother....You will always have 2 children......You will always have a son and a daughter....He will always be a part of you and you will always be a part of him....through eternity.

Anonymous said...

LauraBeth's child's comment is so lovely.

Wishing you a good weekend. I think you're making Jack proud.

Jamie said...

Yes

Heidi said...

Oh, how I love this. Beautifully written, Anna.

Um, my word verification is foreLap...that might be one of the weirdest yet.