Where is my mother?

There are several children’s books by this title. Various cartoon animal-children, in search of their animal-mommies, inquire of other cartoon animals, “Have you seen my mommy?” I saw a book like this at the library and it raised the question for me about my own mother, now several months after her death.

My mother’s ashes were divided into four equal parts and given to each of her children. Together we threw some ceremoniously off the ferry into the waters of Georgia Strait on our way back from her memorial service. I put some into a small pouch that I wore next to my heart in the Seattle Women’s March on January 21st. That pouch now resides next to a photo of us, a little shrine near my writing desk. And I recently ordered a dozen “memory stones.” These are beautiful little disks (future talking pieces?) of  blown glass, with ashes that turn to bright, white sparkles. My

Her two favorite colors, and “her” in the center.

mother becomes a tiny galaxy to be distributed to grandchildren and friends.

These gestures give me peace of heart—but what I am enjoying most are all the other ways and places “she” shows up. Like the small wooden bench that sat for years by the entrance to her patio home, and then on her apartment balcony. Now it graces our remodeled bathroom and we use it every day, admiring its sturdiness and how well it held up from years outdoors before its pampered life indoors.

I am enjoying the fancy dishes, flowery Royal Doulton patterns bought right at the factory in England. When she offered them, I accepted with delight—under three conditions: “1. I’m going to use them every day; they are not going into a china cabinet (no I don’t want your cabinet). 2. I will put them in the dishwasher (though not the microwave), even the ones with gold trim. 3. Before they go into

Four-legged water saving device, prewash service.

the dishwasher, I’m going to let the dog lick them.” She winced, but handed them over. Genius on her part: I think of her every time I reach for them, which is several times a day.


Also in the kitchen, a metal garlic press from my childhood that still works better than any “new and improved” press I’ve bought over the years, and I’ve bought a number of them. This family heirloom will go to the niece or nephew who can make the best garlic-laced lasagna. There will be a cook-off before I pop off.

The list grows and shifts as I notice things, so only one more confession: some days I’m wearing her underpants. Silky, with lace trimmings, they are brand new, as she spent the last year of her life in adult diapers. The only drawback: they have a taped nametag on them from the care centre. If I’m ever in that proverbial car accident, it’s going to confuse the paramedics when my driver’s license says Christina Baldwin and my underwear says Connie McGregor.

I’ve been listening to more classical music this winter, wearing her sweaters and scarves and appreciating everything she did to urge along a sense of culture, style, and flair in her tomboy daughter.

About 20 years ago, I invited my mother to join a journal writing retreat I was leading at Hollyhock Farm in coastal British Columbia. She already lived in BC, on the southern tip of Vancouver Island. Ann Linnea and I were just settling on Whidbey.

I felt ready to call a circle in which my mother could sit among a sisterhood of writers and I could be the teacher and guide, my book Life’s Companion, would be the text. She was then just a few years older than I am now, newly widowed from her Canadian husband, and her mother had recently died at 106.

So we arrive at Hollyhock. I don’t remember our conversation, but were walking the wooded trails overlooking Desolation Sound. A day of blue sky and matching blue waters, islands dotting the sea, mountains in the distance. I began touching a trailing branch of cedar, “Mother,” I said softly. Then more conversation before touching a moss covered boulder, “Mother.” We walked on. Gesturing into the view I whispered, “Mother.”

I was trying to signal her, before she joined the class, that I had transferred the mother archeypte from her/personal to Gaia/transpersonal. After a while, she began to touch the greenery around us, and whisper with me, “Mother…” Mother Cedar. Mother Boulder. Mother Ocean. Mother Mountain.

Connie in a tree–about this time period.

I do not feel orphaned by her departure. My Mother is the Earth. I miss Connie/mom, think of her daily, and wonder how she is enjoying the whatever-comes-next that so fascinated her. My grief is primarily a peaceful ride. When I can calm my awareness, I look for signals coming through—something I thoroughly expect from her after all those years standing in my shoes trying to receive through the veil from her dearly departeds.

I was her firstborn, her “practice baby,” she said, the one she didn’t quite know what to do with. Our relationship was a long road, and it finished in beauty, peace, and open heartedness. That is sufficient. When I need to have a wee cry, I go down to the beach and nestle in amongst the drift logs and sand and am held. Mother Sea. Mother Sky. Mother Mountain. Mother Trees. Mother in my own heart.

19 replies
  1. Sharon Palmer
    Sharon Palmer says:

    Thank you, Christina. What a lovely and loving tribute to your mother. I have a similar story about the “good” dishes and I love how they remind me daily of my mom.

  2. Kate Stockman
    Kate Stockman says:

    My beloved mother comes to me in my dreams when I need her advice… and I channel her regularly when repeating one of her many humorous sayings/jokes. I, too, miss her and am thankful she is now in the Light, far from fear or pain — but as close to me as a dream.

    Thank you, Christina, for the peek into your memories of your mother.

    • David Rozell
      David Rozell says:

      How wonderful. I had forgotten that my mother often called me, the oldest, he “practice child”. Brings back fond memories …thank you.

  3. Cynthia Trowbridge
    Cynthia Trowbridge says:

    I, too, use my mother’s Royal Doulton, bought when she and Dad came to visit during my European decade, daily. I use her rolling pin every time I make pie, hoping to someday pass the rolling pin along with the pie making gene to one of my children. Mom sits with me in motherhood and now grandmotherhood daily.

    Thank you, dear Christina

  4. Meredith H. Jordan
    Meredith H. Jordan says:

    Darling C:

    This was, and is, a beautiful tribute to mother/Mother. I’m certain Connie would have approved, and probably is.


  5. Laura Collins
    Laura Collins says:

    This is beautiful and has made me smile. Thank you for sharing. And now I hope to end up with some of my mom’s underwear!

  6. Laura Hansen
    Laura Hansen says:

    Beautiful Christina, I have had such similar feelings following the death of my own Mother and continue to have. Thank you.

  7. Deb Lund
    Deb Lund says:

    I love how Crissy comes out to join the wise Christina in this beautiful tribute to your mother. I’m heading out now to touch the firs, alders, rocks, and ferns waiting for me outside my window…

  8. Jennifer Getsinger
    Jennifer Getsinger says:

    It was a pleasure to meet Connie at one of those Hollyhock programs; my chosen sarong was a similar pattern to hers, and I still have it. You were lucky to have a mother. Now I am lucky to be able to spend time with my sister, who is moving to the Pacific Northwest.

  9. Jude Rathburn
    Jude Rathburn says:

    Dear Christina – Thank you for sharing another moving tribute to your human mother, Connie and to our shared Mother Earth. I loved reading how she also opened her heart to learn from your deep wisdom, as you captured insights from her example, too. I am so glad that together you found beauty, peace and openheartedness before she left in physical form – I can only imagine the comfort that brings now as you miss her active presence in your life. Blessings to you and all those who loved your mom. Jude


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