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  • A year ago my mom died. Now a year later I am missing her in the most clear and astounding ways. I am missing the lady in the pictures on my stories page. The energizer bunny we called her. Everywhere we went in Belfast everyone knew her and she knew about their children, their ailments, their life stories. She invoked an intimacy that was disarming and invasive. Being her child was , well - difficult. To me she was Mom. To everyone else - Betsy.
    One of her favorite haunts in the later years was Reny's*. Mom loved a bargain and she liked the feel of the place , that is before they enlarged it. She complained mightily about that. It was good to have Reny's as weekly entertainment for her. She knew them . They knew her and she could not get too lost or spend too much money. And there was always something new. Betsy and I went to Reny's almost every week. In time she even got used to the expanded store, gratefully, because her sense of direction and memory were deteriorating fast. Still, we had fun.

    Yesterday I went to Reny's for the long time in a while, maybe since before Christmas when her death was still a blur. Yesterday I went alone and had a long list. Mom's 91st birthday would have been August 23. She died September 27. In the past few weeks my dreams have been full of my grandmother and my mother. Tears come on me suddenly. I woke up the other morning holding my grandmother's hand in my dream. She was a child or at least small. It was reassuring somehow. The past two mornings all of my female relatives keep showing up when I am awake. They walk with me. This is new. I don't know quite what to make of it but it feels soothing, like a clue that there is an unfolding story even after death, more to learn from those that came before. I have fought hard against my legacy for most of my life and now this.

    Anyway I walk into Reny's and went right for a cart. That is when it started. I always got my mom a cart to steady her. It was totally unconscious. My chest filled with tears but I was determined to stay. I had a lot to do and I was going to do it in the present. In every aisle there was a memory. I just wanted to sit down on the floor and cry. I pushed through it. I was afraid one of the staff would see me and come up to ask questions. They didn't. I was invisible. for them the past was gone. I was just a customer. It was a relief and a little sad. Of course, they had moved on. Right after her death they were wonderful and kind. My chest felt full to bursting all the way. Some aisles I could not go down. In some I turned to mom to ask her if she wanted honey roasted nuts or cookies. I think I looked normal but I did not feel that way.

    In the end I circled enough times to get myself a pair of pants and two t shirts, some gluten free pizza dough, olive oil, and Carhardts for Bill. I did ok although we did have to go back today because I got the wrong sizes on the pants. That was ok. I felt much better and Bill was with me.I will be going back there soon. Life is starting to open up again

    There is a part of this story that must be told and this is the picture to go with it but : R. H. Reny, founder, sat in a big chair in the store in Damariscotta greeting his customers until his Alzheimers got the best of him. The little video The little video is a Christmas add from a local tv station. It's his voice at the end. And I will always be grateful to his staff in Belfast for the love and attention they showed to my mom. That is part of his legacy. That and the fact that Reny's is a great family owned store in a world that does not have enough of them.

    *For those of you from away a quote from the history: Fair play. Good Value. Service. Affordability. Quality. You will find all of this and more at Renys! We are a chain of small discount stores throughout Maine that have been a part of our state's culture since 1949. Renys started in 1949 when Robert H. Reny (better known to all as "R.H.") opened his first store in Damariscotta, Maine. The first winter was so slow that in order to keep the store open, Robert had to go door to door around the area selling merchandise out of his old Hudson. That winter he made so many friends that in the spring his new friends came in to shop at the store and the business has been growing ever since! His philosophy was simple - offer great value, make great buys of better merchandise and sell at the lowest possible price to his customers! That philosophy continues today.
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