my mother is amazing. let’s just start with that:
(click links to see the full size, of course). check out that amazing young smile, that super groovy mod hair. this woman kicks ass. she’s singlehandedly held down the fort for over two weeks, and she’s exhausted, and she still makes me laugh and takes care of everyone: obviously, her banana nut bread was the best thing to eat in that house.
there is of course something about sorrow that leaves you open to more sorrow, like an endless avalanche effect of tears. for mom, that meant a real urge to unify her squabbling siblings, because she thinks that death is a reminder to say everything you wanted to say while people are still around to appreciate it. she’s had a tough time dealing with some of my aunts this week, and if i could have her canonized, i’d sure recommend her for it.
for me, it’s not so concrete a concept, just thoughts randomly fluttering to the surface that end up unexpectedly tearing me apart. i’ve done all my crying over my grandmother – after she’d passed on and before the hospice nurse arrived to pronounce her, she and i had a few moments alone, her lifespark had clearly left, and i was so glad to see she was gone. no, it’s the people left with us that caused all my crying today. grandma was always the linchpin in my mother’s side of the family, and i have little doubt that the funeral this morning was the last family reunion we’ll all have.
far worse than these aunts & cousins, though, is the separation in my own family:
god, they’re so young here. my dad had not yet started up the comb-over that was his trademark through my grade school years. mom is still super stylish, with her 70s wings & blue eyeshadow. my baby brother had not yet been fitted with the coke-bottle glasses he needed until eye surgery at 4ish. and all i needed was pigtails & my winnie-the-pooh romper to rock out.
my parents had a rather ugly divorce in 2003, right as i was moving up to MD. they both said horrible things to each other – both in private and during court proceedings – and i’m not sure they’ll ever be ok being around one another again. my mom had always been very close with my dad’s parents, and the health problems they’ve had since my parents’ divorce have been rough on her, since she can’t be there to help them anymore. yesterday, while her family was making all the funeral arrangements, i asked her if she’d called and let dad know what had happened.
i cried while i asked, and reminded her how important it will be to her to be there when my dad’s parents go. “i know you don’t care if he’s there, and i know you don’t want to talk to him, but if you make this gesture, he’ll remember to make the same gesture when it’s time for his parents.” she told me later that night that she’d done it.
my dad was there today. he drove back up overnight from a trip to the valley to make the 11am funeral. i lost it. he said few words to my siblings & me, sat near the back, and left soon after the service, not taking any opportunity to pick a fight with my mother. and every time i look back at that picture of the two of them, i’m bawling again (mom took down the photos of her and her kids from grandma’s wall before we left town). my parents’ divorce really didn’t upset me then – i was in my late 20s and well out of the house by that time – and it doesn’t now. but they’re both a lot older than in those pictures. my dad is now sporting a snowy white squared-off colonel sanders beard, and my mom’s hair hasn’t been in wings in a very long time. i guess i’m just glad to know that when it really matters, they can be in the same room together.