left biblioblography: And The Time, It Has Passed, And My Dear Old Mam Is No Longer With Us...

Thursday, February 21, 2008

And The Time, It Has Passed, And My Dear Old Mam Is No Longer With Us...

So as of Tuesday evening the 19th, my mother passed away.

My little sister had moved her into a retirement community (a real nice one, a few blocks away), and I'd been visiting her as often as I possible could. She'd gotten out of therapy seeming all right. But she couldn't get out of her bed much at all, and then not at all, and would moan piteously and clench my hand, that dreadful, palsied clench.

She was put in diapers. My sister brought in hospice workers.

Last weekend, my respiratory illness got pretty bad: I didn't want to risk getting her (or anyone else in the building) sick. Saturday and Sunday, I laid in bed, sleep for an hour or two, alternating cold and hot flashes, run to the bathroom to spit out whatever I'd coughed up recently. Monday the 18th, I went to the ER, complaining of breathing and chest pains (with my thyroid, I get them: one seemed to pop up conveniently ere I entered). Hours later, I found out I had bronchitis with a touch of pneumonia. Prescribed antibiotics, steroids, an inhaler. This had an uneven effect on me up until now - I've bipolar moments (moments only, luckily), food tastes funny, and I'm notably less garrulous.

Tuesday, my sister called in a priest to administer last rites. I had to go MIA for a few hours, seeing as I very much despise these witch doctors (my B-in-law made much of the fact that the shaman wouldn't take a tip - I tried to explain how this wasn't in fact an admirable thing, but he was sloshed, and his usually shaky logic turns into mush - nothing but grief there).

My older sister made some weepy commentary about how she was with Dad and her brothers now - I let that slide.

It was just awful, that age curled her up into this wrinkled, barely recognizable little gnome, completely helpless, battling for each breath, and that the only reason she passed without pain for the most part, was that she had to be dosed up on morphine.

This moment is why we fear death. Why we as a species demand of the skies, "Why? WHY?", and when no answer is given, we make up stories and tales and draft them into epistemologies that are built on sand, weak fables that some will spill blood to defend.

And through her pain, there were no trumpets, nor angels, or light shining from on high, no supernatural nonsense manifested not once. Who helped her? Real people, using real tools, using human touch and empathy and care. A few people mouthed the usual religious platitudes. I let those slide: I deemed it inappropriate to pound at the crap as is my want.

She is gone. I will always remember her: as a lost child, crying for her, as a wandering child, somehow knowing someone out there cared enough to come look for me. An endless referee in the sibling battles between my two sisters and I. A good cook, someone who turned me on not only to reading, but fantasy as well as non-fiction. Who tried to raise us as Catholics, but when our interests in that piqued and waned, allowed us to go our separate ways to figure our own stuff out.

She was a great deal more than anything I've listed so far: strong, stubborn Irish woman, who married a divorced man against both her church's teachings and her controlling mother's wishes, and excommunicated for her determination. She loved to tip a glass or two of wine, but rarely drank out of control, who would stand up to my stern Pa in a day and age where women didn't usually do that. Dad had a temper of his own, but he'd never strike a woman, and the two could battle at the top of their lungs sometimes. My dad was louder and bigger, but Ma usually was the victor.

I learned a great deal from her. How to be fair, be objective, listen to both sides of the argument (Dad was quite like that too, to be honest). Use logic - be rationale.

I'm going to miss her terribly for quite some time, I think. This brief summary of her does her little justice: she had, like most people, her flaws and foibles, as do we all. She absolutely hated the habit of some people to take the dead and somehow recast them as 'saints' posthumously.

It will take some time for the pain to heal. So if I seem a little more distracted, or a tad less on target, bear with me, troops.

Onwards. To life.

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Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry my friend.

Maggie Rosethorn said...

KA - I am really sorry to hear of your mother's death. I know, from other postings you have made, how much you loved her. Yes, you will miss her. But, one who was loved and is remembered is never dead. Death is when someone is no longer loved or remembered, no matter what their "living" status is. Your mother will never die, as long as you and your sisters keep her alive in your memories.

Krystalline Apostate said...

Thanks, possummama, maggie.
True enough, we can keep the memories of those who have passed w/us: that is the legacy bequeathed, that in some way, the past lives on in our hearts and minds.
& the lessons taught & passed on to us from our parents, we pass on to their descendants, a chain of memories, thoughts, dreams, hopes, and life itself.

Stardust said...

I am very sorry to hear of the loss of your mother. My thoughts are with you. Hang in there.

Krystalline Apostate said...

Thank you, stardust.
I will keep on keeping on. Too stubborn to stop, I think.

Anonymous said...

Hey KA:

Just wanted to offer my sympathies. My hope is that her memories give you strength, as I'm sure she'd want.