Sunday, July 8, 2012

two years

It always bothered me that my mother died when I wasn't in the room.  Some well-meaning people told me she purposely waited for me to leave but in the scheme of things I don't think she had any opinion in the whole sad business.  My mother had been sick and sweating and asleep for three days and there had been no conscious energy being communicated to those of us waiting bedside.  She just left.

Like most of my family I was in firm and silent denial about her deteriorating health.  My brother thought with enough physical therapy she would again walk those steps up to her bedroom and sleep with her husband.  I knew that was a scam and it fueled my belief I was infallibly right, she would survive renal failure and diabetes and all the endless diagnoses she harbored in those last few months.  Christ, how much can one small body endure.

I was with her when her hearing was tested, one short week before her death. She wanted the burgundy hearing aid, and I said no, get the ivory, it is the better deal.  And she let out this endless sigh, a small soft wind wafting towards me.  I forgot that choice was what she needed, that one last stab at independence and I took it away.  We did go for a ride in the country that same day and she ate chocolate ice cream. "I can go home anytime you're ready," she said.  She would never say, I'm fucking exhausted, get me home.

I left her for the last time while she was still breathing to buy groceries.  My sons were coming from Michigan and Colorado and that means food to a mother, she would approve.

Left behind in that hospital room were my brother David, her champion golden child, a lyricist of funny bone and plain innocent fun, the blond son that challenged all genetic information.  She needed him as we all did to divert the dark German culture prevalent in our blood.  My sister Amy.  There was turbulance in their early connections and then these women finally carved out a benevolant compromise, they were the younger darker daughters hunkering in the shadow of older domineering sisters.  And my brother's wife, Sheri, her caregiver in those last messy days. She was forgiving and undaunted by a dying woman's last fluid emissions and epistles, not all of us can do that.
I am indebted to you all.

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