Mom.

Posted by admin on November 13, 2014 in Family |
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My mom died this morning (Nov. 12).

I always love how people on Facebook readily share stuff like this. Sure, I’m an open book. I write about my entire life, the good, the bad, the ugly. And yet, I can’t post that my mom has died.

It’s not that it was unexpected. She was 88. Her husband, my dad, died 31 years before her. We used to joke that because they were both adverse to divorce, my father died because he thought it was the only viable way out. Such is our family’s twisted, wonderful humor.

And yet, the news of my mother’s passing pains me so. When my sister-in-law called to relay the news I always knew would someday come, I found myself bursting uncontrollably into tears in my office. Dutifully, I called my boss. When she answered, all for a moment seemed complete normal, until I broke into tears as I told her that I may not be able to work for a day or two because my mom had just died.

As I write this (and this is the eve of her passing) I am rightfully in a state of shock. True, it was not unexpected. But still, it is a shock to the system nonetheless. After all, the last of my parentage is gone now. My grandparents all died long ago, my father died in 1981, and now my mother is gone.

I can take some solace in the fact that she lived to be 88. She has always been my beacon of hope – my father not giving me any hope that I would experience a long and healthy life. My mother? She seemed to me to be immortal, appearing that she would last forever and perhaps even a day longer than that.

She will, of course. Be immortal. For she still lives on in my memory. This amazingly strong woman who managed to raise me in the face of poverty, taking care of a chronically sick husband at the same time, squeezing out every dime of a Welfare check, making remarkable meals from often bare cupboards, and in the process, finding amazing ways for me to have a fairly normal childhood, no matter what the cost, no matter what the challenge.

I remember the day that my mom went into rehab. She had fallen in her apartment. I got the call from my daughter while I was in Florida. I instantly paid whatever the cost to fly back home, a place I hadn’t been back to in many years.

It was a hard time for me. One time when I came to see her, she didn’t know who I was. We still had a great visit, my mom and I, me insisting that she eat her Jello and all her green beans. She begrudgingly ate every single bite at the behest of this stranger sitting with her who was certain that he had lost his mother for good.

I thought she had finally given in to the demons of old age; that her memory, along with her health, would get the best of her.

They didn’t. True to form, mom pulled out of the dive she was in and came back to us. By my fourth trip home, she was back in her apartment, the same apartment she had lived in for 25 years in the Renton Highlands, a place that felt as much as home as the home I had grown up in.

I learned then that home is not where you grew up, but where your memories are stored. For me, home wasn’t on 2116 NE 28th St. in Renton, but in the Highland Apartments, not far from where I went to high school. That tiny apartment, filled with the memories my mother held close to her, was as much home to me as the expansive four bedroom home that I knew as a child.

I won’t see that home again. My mother died there today. I heard that she went peacefully, laying on the same couch I had sat on many times before, enjoying my mother’s quiet strength, her enduring memories and her wonderful sense of humor.

I will miss her. As I continue this the morning after the news came, I find myself with a hole in my heart. I always joked that one day I would be an orphan when she died.

I’m not, of course. I find great joy, even amidst the pain I feel, to know that my mom got to meet the woman I was born to love. She would always ask me how Katherine was, never calling her Kat. A great improvement over those in my distant past, who she would only refer to as “that girl,” as in “how is that girl?”

It’s so wonderful to know that my mom finally liked someone I was with. She passed knowing that I had finally found the love and peace that I had sought my entire life, and that I was no longer that lost little boy she continually tried to steer to the right course.

Today, is a new day. One in which my parents are gone, and along with them, that sense of home, with all its quirky furnishings and decor that continually reminded me that no matter what was going in my life, that I could always go home.

I will miss that sanctuary of safety where I was always loved, no matter how unlovable I felt at the moment. But most of all, I will miss mom. Somewhere out there, I know she’s found the peace she has long sought, and hopefully, she is now home with my father and my brother, waiting patiently for the day when we all finish our own journeys and come home for the final time.

In the Emerald City, typing through the tears,

– Robb

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