Sunday, September 15, 2013

One year later.

It's hard to believe it's been a year since Mother died. Anna is coming over for supper and I'm going to make a Mary Cake. I am so glad to have my daughter here; otherwise I would feel very out of touch with family. Mother was the one who kept us all connected of course, especially long distance.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Mother's Birthday

Mother's Birthday

Well, I just saw David's post and as usual his writing is so thoughtful and well-expressed that I am slightly abashed to follow. But I logged on to write my own thoughts about yesterday and so I'll push on...

I knew the family in Dallas would be gathering to celebrate or commemorate Mother's 85th birthday yesterday. We are fortunate in our family that a commemoration often becomes a celebration; we remember the past and gone by celebrating what was and what is.

By eating and drinking, of course.

I didn't do anything special last night; it seemed like wallowing to force the occasion. But I thought about Mother all day, of course, and missed Daddy, David and Helen especially much.

Several close friends proved their love by intuiting this: I got messages from Uncle, from Debbie, from Nancy. And even from cousin Don, who messaged me asking if I'd like him to send copies of some home movies his father made in Atlanta at Grandine and Pop's around 1960.

Anyway, I look at my right hand a lot. I wear Mother's engagement and wedding ring on that hand and when I see the rings, I see Mother's hand. I'm so familiar with the rings from looking at them closely when I was a kid and always seeing them on her hands, whatever she was doing. Having them is very comforting.

Then, I had strange dreams last night: One of those times too-frequent in memory when we were all gathering for some occasion and Mother showed up drunk. I was hugging her and berating her at the same time: "Mother, you can't do this anymore. You're about to die."

About to.

Okay, and now one more thing about Dave's post:  Of course, I wasn't familiar with the beautiful music, but I do know that verse, and I think I mainly know it because Bertie Wooster used to quote it. I guess it was part of how he won the Scripture Prize.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

It would have been Mom's 85th..

It would have been Mom's 85th birthday today.

As I write this, a friend and colleague is in shock and grief as his mother has just passed away. He is considerably younger, his mother was probably my age. From the beginning, he continued to post her condition online and I have shared his sorrow as she went in and out of the hospital and into hospice care. Every post was a reminder of how great a chasm is opened by the loss, a window into pain of grief. Every post was followed by words of consolation from his many friends.

A few days ago Dad broached the subject of Mom's impending birthday. In years past, this would have meant lobster, but in a conversation with Helen, Dad said we should commemorate, not celebrate, so we're heading to Matt's for Chile Rellenos.

All of these threads came to focus last night at choir rehearsal. As winter ends, the season turns to the Superbowl, Mardi Gras and Lent and our music shifts into quiet and reflective minor keys. And as we sang the following anthem, tears just welled up and flowed and I had to stop singing. Please listen:

Herbert Howells was an organist and composer of Anglican music written to be sung in the great English cathedrals. Last night we were rehearsing of his setting  of the psalm "Like as the Hart." which was composed in the darkest days of World War II. The music is quiet and personal and expresses the magnitude of the chasm of grief and despair. It begins with peaceful melancholy "so longeth my soul after thee." But that's just the emotional trigger as emotions turn to grief. "My tears have been my meat, both day and night." I have learned to treasure these moments of raw grief. It is then that Mother is most present and the moment is most desolate. "Where, where is thou, my god." The music is at its loudest and most discordant then returns to the peaceful melancholy before concluding with the profound encounter with life, death, grief and God in the powerful ending chord. "When shall I come before the presence, the presence of God?"

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Mid January Recap

Well, Santa Fe was a great success. Not without hiccups, but a great success nonetheless.

Everyone could feel that we were in new territory, but Boston went straight to Dad the moment he got out on to the icy ten degree Santa Fe street. After a visit at Michael and Laura's, we headed to Maria's where we had a big table in our own room. The Casita was terrific, very Santa Fe, but buttoned up and warm inside. The sofa-bed was comfortable and we were able to curtain it off so Dad had his own space.

We hit all the highlights, including several non-chile meals which Dad appreciated more and more as the trip went on. Needless to say we were all exhausted when we made pulled into Dallas late the next Sunday.

Susan had no grace, she went to work at 7 the next morning. I crashed. Dad resumed his normal schedule until he hit a cold or something. I know he ran fever and I remember being told that Dr. Wiggins said it wasn't the flu, but I was sick at the same time and I'm pretty sure I had a mild influenza encounter. Mine lasted several days. I didn't talk to him that week. He didn't answer the phone and his machine was not turned on. He heard at church that I was sick and called Sunday and talked to Susan.

My first day back at work this year was Tuesday, Jan 15. I talked to Dad that day. He called to tell me that we had Symphony tickets for the following Thursday and we made plans to go. He was feeling fine at that point.

Thursday he called to remind me of the tickets, but he was feeling terribly nauseated and went to vomit while I was on the phone. He said that he thought it was the chili he had eaten the day before. (Chili he had made before New Year and which had NOT been frozen.) After the cathartic regurgitation he said he felt much better AND he sounded way better, so I didn't react immediately. Later that afternoon I called to check up. He said he had another bout with the nausea soon after the first, but had been find since. He spent the day watching TV and had not eaten anything. I immediately went to Central Market for containers of Chicken Noodle Soup and a Chicken Pot Pie for when he was feeling better which was the next day.

He met Helen and Will for dinner as usual Friday night. He worked the Cooking Class at the Farmer's Market Saturday morning and cooked a chicken breast for himself Saturday night.. I saw him at church Sunday morning and he looked weak and pale. He said his appetite has been good, he's been eating full meals, but the last few nights have been riddled with bouts of diarrhea and he's lost 8 pounds since returning from Santa Fe.

Other than that he's fine.

He has an appointment with Dr. Wiggins tomorrow.