Sharing the lessons along the way…

Celebrating Life and Death


mom

As I remember it, twenty years ago tonight, I got a call from my older brother.  He said, “Your mother is dead.”  To which I replied, “What do you mean she is dead? Where is she?”  He then said she wasn’t dead yet because she was at the hospital.

We were all there in the ICU waiting room when I suggested we all leave the hospital.  After years and dozens of what we thought was the last trip to the hospital, I said, “She is not going to die just to spite us, so we should probably go home and get some sleep.”

And we did.  I didn’t rush to the hospital the next day either.  I told my husband at the time to go to work because I didn’t figure anything would happen yet.  I don’t remember what everyone else did.  I only remember what happened once I got to the ICU waiting area and no one from my family was there.

I called back to the ICU nurse’s station and the nurse asked me to come back there so she could talk to me.  I asked, “Is she dead?”  She replied, “Ma’am, please just come back so I can talk to you.”  I demanded she tell me before I went through those large double doors into the ICU.  Perhaps I made a bit of a scene in the waiting area, but I don’t recall and am certain I didn’t care.

The nurse finally said that yes, she died earlier.  I was shocked at what I said next,  “Is she still here? Can I see her?”  I am not a fan of dead bodies, but I had to see for myself if what she was telling me was really true.

It was.  I saw it for myself while my stepfather and his sister stood on either side of her body.  Somehow, I was told that everyone was at my grandfather’s house and given directions on how to get there.  I only remember the walk to the parking garage at the hospital.  It was cold, dark and I don’t remember knowing what to do next.  Then I have flashes of memory at my grandfather’s house.  My husband found his way there eventually, although I have no real memory of how all of that happened or how I got home from there.

Ironically, after twenty years, the parts I remember are the same as the week after she died.  Even as clearly, I remember the true gravity of the situation a few weeks later.  I had waited for mom to get sober for years.  It took a few weeks for it to sink in that the hope I had held onto so tightly for mom to get sober and be more mom-like had died too.  At that point, the real healing could begin.

Twenty years later, I have a better understanding of why mom was the way she was when I was growing up.  I have a better appreciation for what was good about her and for those characteristics that I share in common with her.  I certainly would not be the person I have grown into had it not been for her, so for that I celebrate her life.

 

 

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Comments on: "Celebrating Life and Death" (8)

  1. Scott McQuain said:

    I know exactly what you mean, Tawny. I went through sorta the same thing myself. I hope you remember me. 🙂

  2. Tawny:

    What a beautiful picture of your mother. It’s been ages since I’ve seen her and it brought a few tears. Seeing it reminds me of a little piece of my childhood. I have such fond memories of her. I’m sure the alcoholism was a tough struggle for your family and it most certainly did not define her. I feel lucky to have known your entire family during that time of my life.

    Warm Regards,

    Jimmy

  3. Jane Kubalek said:

    Tawny- thank you for sharing about your Mom. She and I were first cousins, yet after my family moved out of state in the 50’s we didn’t keep our connection throughout our adult lives. She was a beautiful girl and woman. Warmly, Jane Gray Kubalek

  4. Harry Steinman said:

    My father fell and broke his hip and leg at age 89. He was quite loony in the hospital, a reaction to anesthesia. The third day after the fall, he became lucid and we talked for 4 hours. He reminisced about his experiences in WWII, a topic that he previously refused to discuss. Told me he was tired. I kissed him goodnight and he went to sleep, perchance to dream…what dreams may come.

  5. Oh, man. I don’t even know how to say what I want to, except that I’m sharing this with my sisters … who will, I believe, feel this as I do.

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