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Friday, 26 July 2013

Memories of My Son

By Jackie Harrison

When he was a baby, he would sleep sometimes 10 hours straight at night. I kept checking on him to be sure he was alright.

His room was upstairs and even with a baby gate, I was afraid he would climb over it and fall down the stairs. I taught him to slide down the stairs on his tummy. We used to laugh at him scooting down those stairs like a streak of lightning on his tummy.

I read to him every night when he was small, lying beside him in bed. His favorite book ended with "Out jumped - Boo!" I would say "boo" very loudly and he would laugh and say over and over, "Read it again."

I sang nursery rhyme songs before he went to sleep at night and ended with the Tommy song, which was really" Tammy" but I substituted Tommy for Tammy. I would sing, "Tommy's my love."

After he had his children, he asked me to put all the nursery rhyme songs I sang to him on a tape and he specifically asked for the Tommy song. I had to tell him it wasn't really the Tommy song.

He was a good boy but I had to discipline him at times when he was small. He padded his back pants pockets so that if I swatted him with a spatula it would not hurt.

He would say, "That didn't hurt," and I would say, "I'm not trying to hurt you. I am only trying to make you behave." As an adult, we often joked about that spatula.

I became a Boy Scout leader so that he would have a unit to join. We did trail-marking and hiking at Tomoka Park where many of the old Tarzan movies were filmed. Tommy and I spent much time alone in the park, too, searching for nests and tracks of creatures.

Another favorite spot of Tommy's as a child was Bulow Plantation, old sugar mill ruins with still existing canals that run into the river. Collecting seashells on the beach, wading into the deep ocean water to pick up conch shells and catching whitings thrilled him, too. As an adult he never got tired of visiting these sites.

His father was away most of his growing years so I was both mother and father to Tommy. We shared his first small motorcycle. We also fished and shrimped together.

Besides the family's large boat, we had a small row boat which Tommy, his friends and I used to paddle across the river to Holly Hill, a small town on the other side from us.

On one occasion, as he and his friend were crossing the river, they thought they saw a shark. They paddled back like race drivers and were exhausted when they reached home.

Tommy went to church with me every Sunday morning. When they asked me to sing in the choir, the men at the church took little Tommy under their wings and allowed him to usher with them. He went with his sister and me on Sunday evenings to the youth group at the church where I was a youth leader.

Tommy traveled with me wherever I went to attend meetings, give talks, etc. He insisted upon driving me to my night classes at the University of Central Florida. He thought of himself as my protector.

We joked and laughed a lot. I called him "T" and he called me "Ma Squaw" (because of my Indian blood ) or "M.”

I remember that voice calling and saying, "Hey, Ma Squaw," what are you doing?" If I called him and said, T, he would respond with," Yes, M.”

He loved taking pictures of nature. Just about two weeks before he died, he called and asked," Mom, did you see that sunset last night? I was sitting with my kids by the lake in Mt. Dora (one of many interlocking lakes in this area) and it was so beautiful that I took a picture."

I said, "You know what, T, I saw that same sunset from my 18th floor balcony and took a picture, too. We must be on the same wave link."

Now when I see a beautiful sunset, I will look up into the sky and know that T is up there somewhere watching me and I will say, "You know what, T, I am down here watching you, too."

He died this past February.

Tommy Harrison

[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Please read instructions for submitting.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


Very touching. I am so sorry for your loss.

Very touching memoir of your life raising your son. You had a closeness that I don't think most mother's have with their sons. Relish your memories and enjoy them daily.

My heart just breaks to hear you have lost someone you love so much. What a privilege to have a life with someone like that, to share your heart so closely. May you have comfort that someday you will be together in everlasting peace together.

Jackie, It's so hard to lose a child. Along with all the other feelings and memories, it just feels wrong. It's not supposed to happen that way.

I felt that strongly when my son died 3 1/2 years ago. But I still think back to the songs he liked me to sing to him and remember going to his Little League games and going to Cape Cod on vacation when I was living in the Boston area.

I so much appreciate your sharing some wonderful memories of Tommy.

Beautiful memories. Thank you for sharing.

Beautiful story, beautiful picture, beautiful relationship. Even though the word memories warned us of what was coming, it still broke my heart to hear he had died. I applaud your ability to share it with us so poignantly. Though I'm a tough old lady who has been through a lot of loss, I have always thought I would just curl up and die myself if one of my children died.

Lovely scrapbook of happy memories. Aren't you glad you were there as so many mothers are not today. Sadly many must work and miss at least half of that precious time. And you went beyond the norm by being a leader of good things for him.
Good catharsis, I believe T will be looking for M and vice versa.

This was moving, so sorry for your loss.

Thanks to all of you for your compassionate comments.

I loved reading this. We expect our children to outlive us and when they don't, it is a pain that never lessens.
Your story was/is beautiful.

oh my oh my - that is not supposed to be....what a wonderful memory you have had of you son - May He Rest In Peace.

Just beautiful..good reminder that life can be so fleeting and nothing works out the way we thought..as a Mom I can cry easily as I read your lines, bless you for sharing his life and yours...hugs..

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