Happy Birfday To Me

February 20, 2007 at 4:49 PM | Posted in Personal | 3 Comments
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I think my attitude towards my birthday is best described in this one word:
Ambivalence.
I’d really like to feel bitter and cynical about growing old, but I can’t muster that emotion.  Don’t get me wrong:  growing old and dying scares the living piss out me.  But I feel pretty good.  And today–today is just another day.  And age–age is just a number.  That determines whether or not you can be
arrested for statutory.
I may, in fact, feel better about my birthday this year than I have in some years;  despite the impending divorce and all the signs and portents of looming tragedy, I feel pretty good.  I’m happy, I’m in love, I’m in fair health,
and I feel I have a direction to go creatively.  Not bad.
Even though–
Even though my mom died last week.
Okay, not really “last week,” but three years ago last week.  It occurred to me around Valentine’s Day that I wasn’t really sure of the date.  In fact, a few months after she passed I wasn’t sure.  All I know is that it was between my dad’s birthday (the 6th) and mine (the 20th.)
I still remember the events leading up to her death fairly well:  the sickness, the relapse, the operations, the return to the hospital.  Talking with my brother and learning things about my family that I had never known.  The nightly visits, going to see my dad and take him something to eat–otherwise he wouldn’t.  He stayed, dutifully, by her side.
And then she was going to come home for in home hospice care.  I was there at the house, waiting for them to come home to help set everything up, when we got the call. . .
And then the funeral, if you can call it that.  My mom was unapologetically a heathen, and there was no service, no body to view (cremated), and I even missed the scattering of the ashes, because my brother called me while I was at work–when I couldn’t leave–to tell me they were going to scatter them in the bayou near the casino.
I was left with a horrible, aching gap, a supreme lack of closure.  Later I had the chance to. . .get over it.  Of course, the burning pain I feel in my chest right now reminds me that I’m not over it, not really.
I’m a little surprised at how much I still miss her, especially in view of the fact that we weren’t very close.  Her choice or mine?  I don’t know.  She was a little distant and hard to get close to.
Detroit has met my father, and things I am “just like him.”
But she has never met my mother, so she wouldn’t know. . .but I have alot of her in me.  Mom was a reader.  Voracious.  Me too.  I think she wanted to be
a writer when she was younger, but never pursued it.  Work and family took too much time–
She worked hard at work, but found it easy to not do to much around the house.  Housekeeping was that thing that other people do.  She never communicated much, but when she did, she meant it.  I guess that
part isn’t so much like me.  She had opinions–about life, the universe, and everything.  God, the heavens, the afterlife.  Strongly held opinions, I found out, but she had the quiet wisdom to not share them with people she knew wouldn’t understand.
Mostly, she was quiet, and kept to herself.  I didn’t know what “introvert” meant as a child.
So. . .I don’t know the exact date.  I’m sure I could look it up, but I don’t want to.  Like the day my granddaughter died:  I think I know the exact date, but don’t want to give it too much.  I know approximately when it is, because we spent our wedding anniversary in a funeral home.  Life, that’s the important part.  I don’t want to celebrate or remember the day they died.

I catch myself doing something my mom used to do, which I never understood as a child, but now I do.  We would be driving together, or she
would be puttering around the kitchen, or whatever.  But she would be quiet, lost in thought, with a smile on her face.  She was completely gone, in her head.  Her imagination was in control, and there was no telling what was going one.  You may as well have hung a sign on her that said, “Be Right Back.”
I do that.  I do that alot.  Even just briefly, I can completely leave.  I can’t explain where I’ve been. I can’t describe what I was thinking, I can’t remember what I was feeling.
But it was good.

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