Not long after midnight on October 14, my mother quietly passed away into the next world. I spent hours on the phone with people — family, and the funeral director, and various nursing home and hospice staff — and got the arrangements made, and I flew to Boston early last Friday. I spent some time in South Station with a late lunch, paper and pen, and my memories. I took a train down to Mansfield, where my cousin Valerie (and her three kids) picked me up; I stayed with her, Chris, and the kids in Taunton, and they always make me feel welcome. We had a short service on Saturday morning, and although my mother was going to be cremated, I’d wanted to have her embalmed so I could see her that last time, so I could say goodbye to more than an urn of ashes. (My father was not embalmed, and was cremated before I got back to Massachusetts. I wanted some closure this time, dammit.) The service was simple, but I believe Ma would have liked it, and so I liked it, and am proud of myself for it, I feel it was just right, and fitting for her.
During Kyle’s basketball game earlier tonight, I said to Jeff, “It’s only been eight days. It seems like I’m not sad enough. Do you think there’s something wrong with me?” He sort of shook his head, sort of shrugged. “Are you worried that I’m taking it too well?” He said no. Then I said, “Oooohhhh, you’re just too worried about yourself and your own problems.” (I wasn’t accusing, just direct.) Yes, he admitted that’s probably true.
The week of October 5, we just got more bad news than we ever wanted. On Monday the 5th, Jeff reported to work as usual, and barely more than an hour later, he called to tell me he’d been laid off; his position was eliminated. Thankfully he has severance payments for a couple months, so we’re holding steady, but it’s still quite a shock, and we’re both concerned about what he’ll do next.
On the afternoon of October 6, my mom’s hospice nurse, Sherry, called to let me know my mom had “had a decline.” I had gotten a call from the social worker, Jerilyn, but couldn’t talk because I had someone “shadowing” me from another agency that morning. Jerilyn and I didn’t talk until Wednesday, and by then, one of the facility’s nurses had called me and was ALSO using the word “decline.” In talking with Jerilyn on Wednesday and Thursday, I began to accept that my mom had turned that last corner. She was moving down a straight path toward death, and she had accepted that. She said she’d been seeing my father for a few weeks, that she was ready to go home.
I am not crying, right now. It’s very strange. I have cried, during her last hours, and during this past week — even today, a little bit — and you and I both know I’ll cry again, many times. But I know that she is at peace, and she is with my dad. My mother was not a happy person … but I believe she is happy now. I also feel that my mom and I really didn’t leave anything “unfinished.” Our relationship was good, in the last couple years. I had come to accept her as she was, to understand her shortcomings; and I knew that she loved me and was proud of me.
I could share more details about the last pages of my mother’s life, and the service we had — and maybe I will write more of those things down in the coming weeks or months, at least for myself, so I have a record of the timeline. But I also think that my relationship with my mother, and the ways that our lives have intersected in spite of my wish to NOT be like her, is truly an odyssey, an epic. I could write hundreds of pages about her, and about us together; she was one complicated woman. So, I wanted to post about her death, but I don’t want to dwell on it too much, or at least not here in my blog. To properly present my mother, I would need far more time than I have in my daily life, and far more space than a blog page should consume.