the beamed ceiling in her bedroom

Today I lay down on my mothers’ bed. I looked at the ceiling beams, which is what she would have seen at the end. Tears rolled down my cheeks because two years ago, Mother died on this day. November 18th, 2019, at 7:05 am. in this room in this house. It is time for me to go back home to Charlottesville, VA. But…
I miss my mother on the anniversary of her death.


Two years have slipped by, during which everyone has been distracted by the Covid debacle. For me, the bigger change after my mothers passing, was moving to Charlottesville a year and a half ago. I did not pay much attention to the “plandemic.” It has barely impacted my life or the lives of my loved ones.

It has taken two years for me to finally heal emotionally from the sadness of the last few years of my mother’s life and let my true grief appear. Those last years were very hard for me because I had to twist myself into knots to become what she needed to keep her happy. There was no way out, and so I moved into her house so she could continue to live the life she wanted. I loved her enough to do it, but it took a toll. Her desire for a social life was uppermost in her mind. She wanted to be where the “action” was. She loved her friends and needed them.


But by her late 90s, most of her friends were dead. Long dead, in fact. In the meantime, she made new friends. Friends fed her soul. She grew up an only child so she put extra emphasis on her friends as a source of happiness. I knew her history and sympathized with her desire to go out and see people, but it was not as important to me. Or not in the same way. I sometimes chaffed at my role as social secretary and party planner.

Now, I am letting my true feelings emerge. Almost as if we just lost her, it is acute. Longing to talk to her, tell her my triumphs and my failures, but she is gone. Something precious is missing. Someone that was always there in my life. And I miss my mother.


She was an amazing woman. Very upbeat and extremely popular; everyone liked her. Many of her friends had been close from early childhood. And of course, she made many new friends while still keeping up with the old ones. She was sociable. She bubbled over with good vibes, happy smiles, and positive thoughts. And as a result, people loved to be around her.

She was an excellent letter-writer, thank you note sender and telephone buddy. I don’t believe I ever saw my mother watch a television show by herself. She did not even listen to the radio alone. She wanted to interact with real live people. And she did this often, along with my father for the first 40 or so years of her marriage. They entertained together, and as an Ambassador and Chief of Protocol, he appreciated a wife who was his full partner socially. She and my father were a great duo.

Ruth and Wiley in the 1950s

When I was a schoolgirl, she was always home when we arrived back on the school bus. We could usually find her in her large, comfortable blue and white bedroom with its beamed ceiling. She was sitting at her cream-colored, French provential desk with its fine blue trim. No matter what she was doing there, her desk was always neat. Or sometimes, she would be talking on the pale white phone with all its buttons. She would be sitting in the blue tufted chair by her bed, talking, when I walked in. It would be quick as she would tell the person she had to go. Sometimes she was reclining on her chaise lounge reading a book. Usually, she would have a dog or two with her. Dogs loved her all her life. And she loved them.
I think she was more of a friend to me than a mother. And that is what I miss. Her friendship and “company.” She was my best friend for most of my adult life. She was always available. We would talk on the phone for long stretches sharing her life and mine.

After my marriage and giving birth to many children, I focused most of my attention on my own family. My parents seemed fine. My father became Ambassador to Austria. That was a new adventure for them together. But in the 80s, my father became ill (or whatever you call it when Alzheimer’s takes someone over). Their life as partners was suddenly gone. Mother needed help; she needed to vent; she needed escape. I began going to Washington to visit her several times a week. We spent long agonizing afternoons while she tried to figure it out. It was a tense time for her and a helpless one for me. There was nothing anyone could do. It was my job to listen to her talk about her feelings and her life. She felt her life was over. The part that had to do with my father indeed ended with his disease.

2nd Wedding, 81

But her life was far from over, and she lived another 35 years. She had a great romance after my father, with a man whom she did not marry. And later, yet another love entered her life. Her old boyfriend from her teenage years lost his wife. They fell in love again and married when she was 81 years old. She was happy and complete. They loved each other so much it was delightful to watch.

New Years Eve 2014

Such a life she had! She loved arranging flowers, planning parties, and she loved dancing. Oh, how she loved dancing! Even more than that, she loved dogs. And more, along with dogs and her garden, she was an artist. She was competitive. She loved beating people at cards or croquet. She loved to win. She was beautiful. She wore pretty clothes in pastel colors and jewelry to match. She never, ever went anywhere without her lipstick perfectly applied. She loved her homes by the sea. She and my father had a lovely home in Jamaica in the 60s. She cried and cried when they sold that house. But they also had a (magnificent) cottage in Newport R. I. called Beaulieu. She summered there until the end. She loved the water; looking at it and living near it made her happy and cheerful.

Of course, this was her normal state at all times. It is nice to be remembered for only nice things, beautiful things, happy and loving things. I miss my mother.

Kicking up her heels!

Copyright©. 2021 Bonnie B. Matheson

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