My mother, Barbara, passed this weekend. She had struggled with Alzheimer’s and other illnesses for 10 years, and developed pneumonia last week. We decided to work with hospice and hope that she would pass easily and with as little pain as possible. She died on Saturday morning, loved, remembered, cared for, seen.
As a writer, I have words in me, but I can’t share all of them now. There is too much swirling around, lifting and sinking, hiding from me, demanding attention.
I will say that death, like birth, is never truly peaceful. It is a visceral awe-some act of struggle, control, and sublimation. It is power; sex and birth and life and death and each cycle circles in swirls and moebius strips turning marking each of those phases in blends and solitary moments. It is hard to watch and bear witness to, but it is what is in our core, being human. It is a terrible and beautiful honor to hold that space. We all need to see it, to hold each other through all of it, this sex and birth and life and death, for that makes us who we are. That, and all the moments in between.
For now I will say that Barbara was beautiful, intelligent, private, irreverent, and slightly cynical while remaining hopeful. She was detail oriented to a fault and had the neatest linen closets you would ever see.
She loved history, politics, music and art. She watched and observed our nation over WWII, Korea, Vietnam, MLK, Watergate, Oil Crises, Reagan (she refused to eat Jellybeans because of him) and too many Bushes. She saw 9/11 and it broke her heart. She knew what it meant about democracy. She loved cats and smoking cigarettes. She liked wine. She was a killer Scrabble player and adored crossword puzzles. She set a brilliant example for me in spirituality as she didn’t tolerate organized bullshit, and she knew that nothing, not religion or politics could stop people from loving each other, no matter their gender or race.
She loved her grandsons and her family.
She didn’t deserve the card she was dealt, this dementia and suffering, the indignities of a nursing home, but who does? She fought and stood stubborn, she settled in with mild resentment, she drifted off in to a peaceful acceptance. She was loved by the staff at RNC and that was a gift.
She was my mother and I loved her in all the complicated, complex, and difficult ways one can love. She loved me, too. Here we are holding hands last week, she loved that, even unto the end.
Take good care this week and love each other and yourselves.