Thursday, August 04, 2005

I Love You, Mom...

Two years.

How can two years have gone by so quickly? It was two years ago today my Mom passed away. It was the worst day ever. I had just lost the last of my two parents. I was an adult orphan. Not the same, I know, but sometimes that's what it feels like.

It was such a shitty ride up to and including when she died. She had alzheimers - this is the ugliest disease. I won't go into all the bullshit on it. Everyone knows it sucks. But until you've lived it, even for one second, you'll never know the pain that it creates for everyone it touches. Never will I forget the day my Mom didn't know who I was or that confused smile and lost look in her tender blue eyes as she searched what memory she had and came up empty.

Her long term memory was better than her short term. She could remember details of when my older brothers and sisters were young. Unfortunately, I wasn't around then. The age gap in 14 children (10 that were hers) was spread out such that the older kids grew up together and then there was Skinny Girl and myself - born nine and ten years after the youngest of the older kids was born.

My Mom was the kindest person you could ever meet. All she ever wanted to do was make peace. She wanted everyone to be happy and get along - which was a tall order when you're married to an abusive alcholic for 51 years and have boys who loved to fight. My band of brothers...thugs. And I love every one of them.

I never heard my Mother curse. You'd hear the "oh, horse shit, julie" when she knew we were teasing her about something. She was 81 when she died and I never heard her use the "F" word. How is that possible? I use it (regretfully) in front of Aries occassionally. I've also told her it's the Grand Daddy of all cuss words and not to use it. I know, wish me luck with that one.

My heart is heavy today. I miss my Mom. It was just on July 24th that I was reminded of my Dad's birthday, his passing and the passing of my brother, Willie. And for cryin' out loud, I just buried my brother, Jim, in January. Every cell in all that makes up "me" hurts. I feel alone and I need a hug but who and what I need is nowhere around. I know this will pass. It always does but today every memory that passes through my mind reminds me of what is no longer.

I used to get so mad at my Mom for not leaving my Dad when he was so mean to her for all those years. I used to get so mad at her for not sticking up for me more. I was the daughter that was the wild child. The lesbian who dated men because it would have made Dad mad. I studied dance. I flew by the seat of my pants and enjoyed every step of my life - no matter what was going on. All of those things have made me who I am but I didn't fit "the mold."

Yet when I think about my Mom today, I am reminded of all the love she gave to every one of us kids...and my Dad. The woman was a Saint for sticking by his side. Though I often thought of my Mom as weak, I realize now, as an adult, that she was indeed one of the strongest women I've ever known. It's funny, Skinny Girl says the same thing about me yet when I compare myself to my Mom I pale in comparison.

I remember the day my Dad died and how it crushed her. They had actually gotten to a place in their relationship (as it should be) after all those years of being married where they were true companions, friends, husband and wife (the way he should be treating her). They figured out how to communicate. She cared for him as his heart began to fail. They were reminded of their mortality and were each afraid of it in their own way.

The morning my Dad died, they were at their place in Washington. My older Sister was supposed to come by there for breakfast that morning on her way to work. It was around 7 a.m. and my Mom had gotten up and poured my Dad is usual half a cup of coffee and brought it to him in the bedroom. They talked about what time my older Sister was expected to arrive. Dad said there was no air that morning. He asked my Mom to turn on the fan - which she did. It still wasn't enough. He asked her to point the fan directly at him - which she also did.

They sat on the side of their bed talking for a few minutes. My Dad reached out to my Mom. He wrapped his arms around her and told her that he loved her. With her arms wrapped tightly around him, he tipped his head back and died in her arms. His heart just stopped beating. He had had problems with it for years - everything seemed to be a series of trying to keep him alive a little longer. This med, that treatment, a change in diet, oxygen. His heart was tired and had nothing left.

My Mom laid him back on the bed and with a broken heart and scared down into her soul, she called 911. The paramedics came and worked on him for a while but could do nothing to save him. He was gone. 51 years of marriage and he died in the arms of the woman he loved.

What a phenominal way to go.

My Mom was lost for a long time. How do you move on after 51 years? Regardless of the dynamic in the relationship, it was all she knew.

All of us kids (mostly my sisters and I) paid Mom's mortgage up until she sold their place. We did everything we could to take care of her and be there for her. I can't even imagine the pain she felt in her heart or the emptiness she experienced...

Until now.

Though they say I was a Daddy's girl, my Mom meant the world to me. She called my two sisters and I "the three bitches." Us three girls, Mom and Skinny Girl's daugher The Model would all travel home (to San Diego) together. We'd laugh and drink Margaritas and sit for hours at Dad's gravesite talking to him. We'd clean his headstone and take flowers and put grass seed on his plot. He's got the most amazing view of the Pacific Ocean from the cliffs where he's buried.

At least now he's not alone. She's right there with him, buried in warm socks so her feet wouldn't be cold for eternity.

Now it'll just be the four of us girls going to San Diego every now and again. Though we haven't done it together yet, I'm sure we will. For right now it hurts too much.

But for today...

Thanks Mom. For loving me unconditionally and for being there for me through all my crazy shenanigans, dance performances, boyfriends, girlfriends, my marriage to an abusive husband and especially for being there for me during the birth of McKenna. I will never forget that day or the way you instantly cherished her the first time you held her. She's growing every day, she's tall, beautiful, smart, funny and exactly like me. Thank you for being proud of me and for saying so. Thank you to you and Dad for teaching me the importance of integrity. And thank you for every memory that I have that I will cherish the rest of my life.

I'll see you in my dreams.

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