Sorry that this post will be long, but this post is from a grieving son who is mourning his mother. I got a call from my brother in law, who is the manager of a restaurant. It seems that my mother’s husband came by to see him during the lunch rush. He thought that they had come by for lunch, as the frequently did, and thought it was odd that just one of them was there, so he asked. The conversation went like this:
NH: I just came by to tell you that my wife is dead. She died in her sleep last night.
BIL: What did the cops say?
NH: I haven’t called them. I couldn’t remember the number.
BIL called his wife, then he called me. I live more than an hour away, so I called the cops to go by and check on her as I rushed to get over there…
I don’t blame the new husband. Mom married him about 4 years ago, and it’s been increasingly obvious to all of us that he has dementia. He can’t be trusted to drive alone, and the police had to go looking for him the last time he tried, because he was missing for hours.
I went over there, and I had to go into the house to identify the body. My sister couldn’t do it. I have seen plenty of dead bodies in my years in the medical field, but seeing my mother’s face on a corpse was pretty rough. I did OK and held it together until I went to leave the room, when I said “Goodbye, Mom.” That was when it hit me. My mother is gone, and I am now an orphan. A wall of grief that was unbearable overcame me.
My mother wasn’t perfect. Like all of us, she was a flawed human. When I was a child, she used to burn my fingers with matches when we touched something that we weren’t supposed to. When we said something objectional, she would put hot peppers in our mouths. She used to tell me things like “I have to love you because I am your mother, but I don’t have to like you.” Later as an adult, I was homeless for a time. That’s when I called my parents for help, because even though we hadn’t been speaking for a couple of years, I had nowhere else to turn. They hung up on me. There were plenty of reasons for me to resent her. All of those reasons are probably why I have had so many failed relationships. It made me into a person that isn’t good at being vulnerable or sharing my feelings.
The good memories of my parents far outnumber the bad. She was my mother, and I love her. After dad died, we lived together in my house for almost two years because she had nowhere else to turn. As the eldest son, it was my duty.
My earliest memories are from when I was three years old or so. I remember chasing dad and throwing snow at him as you laughed in joy. I remember the time I fell in that ant mound, and how you were brushing the ants from me as I cried. I remember the time I fell from the swing set and broke my arm, how you came running to help me. My fondest memory from my childhood is feeling the cool fall air blow through the house as you put up the fall decorations.
Every boy seeks the advice and approval of his father, but seeks the comfort and love of his mother. Now that I am the eldest remaining in my family, I no longer have either. It’s been many decades since I sat in your lap and was comforted by my mother’s embrace, I still remember and cherish those memories. Still, life goes on, and I am comforted by the love and support of my wife. Mom, when we spoke last week, you told me that you were happy that I had finally found a wife who is as good for me as she is, and how you were comforted knowing that I finally had the happiness that had eluded me for so long. Our dinner together for Thanksgiving was lovely, and I will cherish our time together for the rest of my life. You taught me so much.
My mother. I won’t be able to give her the Christmas gift I bought her. She won’t be able to call me on my birthday at the exact time I was born, just as she used to do every year. No more dinners with my mother. No more phone calls. I will never see or speak again to the woman that I have known longer than anyone else.
It seems to me that life is now a burden that must be borne without the guidance of the generation that came before. My parents and all but one of their siblings are now gone, along with their parents before them. Three of my five cousins are dead, as are five of my seven aunts and uncles, and one of my nephews.
My Father went into cardiac arrest on my Mother’s birthday, spent a couple of weeks in the ICU, and passed away on my Brother’s birthday. It was a decade before my Mother would celebrate her birthday again. Now, 19 years later, the circle is complete. Even though she remarried, she passed away on my Father’s birthday.
Goodbye Mom. I love and miss both you and Dad. My life is diminished without you, and my heart is breaking. Because I have always felt that funerals held in Latin were a beautiful way to say goodbye, and the Latin prayer Requiem Aeterna is a particlarly beautiful prayer:
Requiem aeternam dona ei. Domine, et lux perpetua luceat ei. Requiescat in pace.
As far as the blog goes, I have some posts that I wrote these past few days, and they will be posting while I am absent. I need some time to make funeral arrangements and to grieve with my family.