Thirty-five days ago, I received a call from my younger brother that our mother had been taken to the hospital for something akin to acting strangely in her apartment building with common, shared hallways.
A minor bladder infection was identified and treated. There being no safe way to send her home alone, she was transferred to a rehab facility. By the time my older brother visited 4 days later, she appeared confused and disoriented, unable to immediately recognize people and events, though she ‘covered’ well – being the brilliant person she is.
In the last four weeks, it has become apparent she is dying, whether she wants to or wills it so or is victim of an unwelcome predator.
I’ve occasionally lain awake nights for two years contemplating what to say at her funeral. Shall I mention the elephant in the room – that everyone knows she had an uncontrollable temper? Should I talk about her willingness to give the shirt off her back to a stranger, but possible inability to grant her children a disagreeable lifestyle choice or two?
I could talk about her genius at making something out of nothing, like Christmas out of a few used bows and some tattered wrapping paper. Some scraps of cloth and a needle and thread.
Or I could rehearse the scores of insults and put downs, intentional or not. What does a kid know?
One thing seems undebatable: there is nothing so life-altering as the passing of ones mother. You’re either left with guilt, or guilt that you don’t feel guilty, or longing, or longing that you don’t feel longing, or…or…
Now you’re the grownup, while some small part of you is still a child, the product of this wonderful, dazzling, horrific creature that was your mother.
This is not a needle’s scratch on the surface. No one can possibly know the effect of a mother until she is gone for a decade.
Stay tuned. She isn’t gone yet.