This piece, Goodbye without Leaving, and Leaving without Goodbye was a collection of notes, letters, drawings and photos shared between my mother and I. On November 6, 2021 Tracy passed away, after a 5 year long stint of living as a paraplegic following an aneurysm she suffered while I was home with her on December 26, 2017. My life in college had consisted of a long distance relationship between the two of us. She lived for 56 years, if you would like to have a glimpse into who she was, please read here.
Find comfort in books and the library. Interject large words into sentences because you can, and have the dictionary open and ready. Always look out for those around you and lend a helping hand. Volunteer your time, money, and energy. Talk open and loudly to strangers; act as if you’ve been friends forever. Dole out advice and bone crushing hugs to the few friends and family you keep close.
Appreciate the beauty of art. Decorate your house like a museum, and collect ornate fabric to cover every surface. Scribble your pen or pencil lightly when shading, build up value on the page with scribbles and cross hatching. Let your imagination and creativity blur your vision when the harsh reality is too ugly. Relish the days you painted in high school art classes; and the textile courses from college. Watch the gaudy, tacky clothes from the eighties and early nineties gather dust in your closet. Watch how your youngest child discovers the wonders and joy of art. Pass on your talent, and your dreamy point of view.
Work hard, and work tirelessly. Hold, at minimum, two jobs. Sew buttons onto pants at the Levi’s factory. Fry the chicken and mash the potatoes at KFC. Work at the dinky corner store. Start at the University of Missouri, and graduate from the University of Tennessee.
My relationship with my mother has been fragmented through years of foggy memories, buried tears, through hushed conversations. I rely on old photographs, her hurried notes from receipts and scrap paper. I rely on old medical records, the few interactions with her family, and what I can only perceive as spirits from those who passed away.