Friday, June 20, 2014

Remembering Moms and Dads

G'ma's everywhere these days.  The clouds remind me of her sitting in the passenger seat of The Schnozz, commenting on the bigness, the blueness, the mountains up against the sky.  Lazy afternoons leave me with a hole in my day, because there's no mommy to visit at the pod castle.  In six weeks or so I'll be a grandma myself, and the woman with whom I want to share the joy is o where to be found.

I missed Daddooooo after he died.  That's a fact that cannot be denied.  His postcards and newspaper clippings and demands for information about his grandchildren - "How is that girl doing?" - were bookends to my weeks.  I'd hear something on NPR and pick up the phone to talk about it with.... oh, right, he's gone.

I had lots of conversations with the ether in the months after his death.  I paused as I imagined his responses, hostile and humorous at the same time.  He was a complicated guy; he was no clearer in death.

When I visited I was totally focused.  I'd travel to New York to see my parents, and see my parents is what I did.  We toured Long Island and Manhattan, we dined at restaurants where they were greeted by name, we sat on the swing in the back yard, and we talked.  Oh, yes, we talked.  Daddoooo was uncomfortable with silence and he had no problem filling a void. 

G'ma listened.  She made up the background.  There was a pillow under my butt and a cold drink in my hand and a plan for lunch and dinner and she'd taken care of it all without any help or advice or intervention.  She sat quietly and listened, occasionally chiming in to correct a fact or pull Daddoooo back from one of his more outrageous corners, but she rarely initiated a topic. 

Living with a larger than life man had squelched the adventurous spirit I've heard she possessed as a younger woman.  Always up for an outing, she learned to keep her opinions to herself unless safety was involved. She packed more than Daddooooo wanted for a trip to the beach, and withstood his disparagement and scrutiny as she put fruit and napkins and drinks into the cooler.  Once on the sand, everyone was glad she'd done the work; in her heart, she knew she was right.

That's what I'm missing right now.  G'ma had an unerring moral compass.  Love for her children was always at the top of the list, even if we didn't see it that way at the time.  She wasn't perfect, but when the shit hit the fan, she was my umbrella.

There are things I want to discuss with her right now.  I can have my part of the conversation, but the air is empty when it's time for her to chime in.  Should I tell..... what will.... suppose I..... the details are less important than the absence of her answer.

I miss her a lot.

A high school friend told me of her mom's death last Spring, letting me know that I'd been remembered up until the end.  She, too, is trying to forget the last few months  of her mother's existence, hoping to recapture the happier memories of earlier days.  That's been my dilemma, too.  The most vivid images I have are of G'ma in her chair, asleep, not focused on anything, struggling to figure out who I was and why she was where she was.

It's awful. It's not who she was.  Yet, it's all I can conjure up for myself.  Older memories seem awkward to recall; for some reason I find myself being pushed back to the end of life snapshots.  I did what needed to be done in the manner it required; why can't I let go of it and revel in the happier times?

I've tried Albert Ellis's Rational Emotive Therapy prescription - I tell myself, out loud, to STOP THINKING THAT THOUGHT.  It gets pushed aside for an instant, but reappears with a vengeance if I drive by a place we shared.  Repressing it just makes it worse.

I suppose I ought to call Maggie the Magnificent and have her social work skills help me pave a new pathway for these thoughts.  I know that there are better places for my mind to wander.  I just need to figure out how to get there.

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