Monday, December 10, 2012
My mother died 11 years ago this morning. It was a rather surreal experience. I got the early morning phone call from the hospital telling me that she may not make it. My Dad had left my mom there in the ER because the milkman was coming and in his mind, she was very sick, but would be fine.
Actually, I recall that she told him to go home as well.
I had to wait for the bus and drop B off at work then drive down to Newport. I didn't make it in time. She died in the company of doctors, but not her family.
A far cry from her Grandmother, Nana PomPom, who died in bed, at home surrounded by family. Before she passed on, I was told that she smiled at each person standing by.
Even my Grandmother, went to a cookout on her day, when she felt sick and died suddenly. My mother was at her side.
I didn't make it and that has always bothered me. But in reality, I'm sure at that moment she was covered in doctors. They would have kicked me out of the room to work.
I had high hopes when I got there, after I was told the news, my father and uncle having made it there before me. I desperately hoped that she would have some look of peace on her face. A small sign that she was going to a better place.
This was not the case.
Every year, I plant Morning Glories in memory of my friend David, who passed away a few years back. He gave me a little orange pitcher that sits on my shelf in the kitchen. I think of him when I look at it. I think of him when I see one of his flowers in bloom during the summer.
Every year, I carve a cyclops pumpkin in memory of my friend Gig, who passed 8 years ago.
I keep my dog Shaz's collar on my rearview mirror in my car.
I have my Nana PomPom's wedding picture on my wall. She married the man from the next village in what is now Slovakia.
I do not have pictures of my mother on my wall. I rarely if ever go to her grave. The only time I ever really missed her and wanted her at the moment was at the birth of my children. Like right after, you're tired, you're holding a wet squirming (but very beautiful) thing that's crying. You want your Mommy, no doubt about it.
Missing my mother, honoring her memory was a difficult thing because her life wasn't all that great. In some ways I feel she was better off because anything has got to be better than the life she was leading.
Over time I realized that this was not entirely true. She had a husband (Horst-it's Ok to giggle, by living with him I think she should qualify for Sainthood)She had children who were not junkies, who were making very decent lives for themselves. She had a Granddaughter that she loved very much who, in turn, loved her. She had friends, she had books and TV. She had ice cream.
One day this summer I was walking out of my yard and spied a very lovely Morning Glory nodding at me. I thought of David. Then I thought of all the little rituals I engage in to memorialize my loved ones that have passed. I realized I do nothing for my mother. I became very ashamed.
She was a pretty good Mom, not the greatest, but she helped make me into the person I am today. She was a good hearted, kind person who never judged anybody. She deserved a little something.
I started thinking of what I could do. I didn't try to over think it because sometimes if you try too hard, it seems forced and false. So I waited.
I was in a store when I spied this shirt on the rack.
My mother used to live in a Quonset Hut. She told great stories about it. I can remember being fascinated by the idea of living in one.
I immediately bought the shirt. I also grabbed a magnet and sent it to my brother and reminded him of her Quonset hut stories.
I was happy to have that little token thing to remind me of her and her stories from when she was a child. I remember that she told a pretty decent story. I used to love to hear them.
She also could never finish a book. She would go to the library and get 6 thick hardcovers and never finish them.
It was my mother who made me into a bibliophile. After realizing that she gave me my love of books and libraries, I think of her as I read the last page. I finish books in memory of my Mom.
Except if they suck. I realized about a year ago that life is too short to sit through a crappy book, so if it sucks I put it down. After giving said book a good chance, of course.
Maybe I even got my love of storytelling from her as well.
Wow-this is like therapy, but free.
So if you knew Barbara, take a moment to remember her if you can today, because in her own way she was a really great lady.
I love you Mom.