Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Two Years, Seven Months, and a Day

Coffee in a stemless wine glass (we don't have any mugs here at the new house), "Cloudy This Morning" by George Winston on iTunes. It isn't cloudy this morning. It's beautiful, and breezy, and sunny, and I have a full exciting day ahead. Nonetheless I am a bit... sad. Two years and seven months ago yesterday I wrote a post about massaging my mother's feet. That was after her second hip replacement surgery. And after that life got... complicated. And dark. For a couple of years. Now I sit on (I hope) the other side of the dark, and I contemplate the gains and losses of that time.

The biggest loss for me was the passing of my mother in April, but to be honest, I was gradually losing her from the day my father died four and a half years ago. Living with her after he took his life (he had terminal cancer and time left, but he wanted to go out on his own terms) hammered a couple of hard lessons into me. You really can't live someone's life for her--or make her enjoy living her own life. Just because I saw a new world of fresh possibilities free from constant criticism and financial worry didn't make it her reality. However bad she said her marriage was and how much she seemed to want to be out on her own didn't make it true. I guess an anchor is just that; something that keeps you stable and grounded. An anchor, as such, is neither good nor bad. The person who is the anchor has all the personality traits and characteristics humans have and that can be a destructive and grim as you can imagine. But the anchor, that person's role as an anchor, is what keeps you set. When you lose your anchor, you can either sail or drift. Mom drifted and eventually broke on a reef. The irony that she died while in vacation in St. Croix with us is not lost on me.

Yesterday was her birthday and she would have been 75. She liked to note that she and Teddy Roosevelt shared a birthday. They also shared their the day with Captain Cook of the Sandwich Islands fame, Paganini, Emily Post, Dylan Thomas, Lichtenstein, Sylvia Plath, John Cleese, and my personal favorite, Simon LeBon of Duran Duran. During the past couple of years Mom remarked frequently that she had lived longer than her mother did. She followed that observation up with the bitter comment that people had an expiration date and she had passed hers. It has taken me until now to remember her as she was before Dad's death, before her numerous surgeries and health issues. When she died, at first all I could feel was a numb relief. No more fights with her to get up, to care, to live. And when I saw her in my mind's eye, I saw her as the old dried out husk of a person that she had become. No one should have to remember a loved one that way. But lately when I think of her, when I see something I would like to share with her or something that reminds me of a time we spent together, I see her as she was--mischievous, wicked sense of humor and fun, loving, strong, smiling, vibrant, energetic, athletic, up for anything, young at every age. And I am so happy to have her back.

My mom believed that when she died she would get to be with her parents, her sister, and maybe even my dad again. She believed she was going on to a better place and a new "life". I don't share her beliefs. I believe when you die that's it, there is no more. But I hope for her that she was right, and I know that even if it didn't work out that way so that she could be happy now, at least she is at rest. At peace. I love you Mom, and I miss you more every day.