Friday, May 7, 2010

Good Bye

Mother’s Day is here this weekend…

I feel compelled to write…something…

Usually I would have been planning the “Sunday excursion”-My Mother loved to take long lazy drives in interesting areas.

One year we went and visited all the houses we had lived in around Los Angeles-Lynwood, Pico Rivera and home to Burbank.

More often we would head off to Solvang or the beach cities-just anywhere that was interesting and scenic…in her later years it became more and more important to her.

Finally in 2006 too tired and too sick to stay any longer she left us…it has gotten easier to bear but the emptiness is still very real.

I used to talk to her everyday-we worked together on many projects: Costume Design, Crafts designs, she made dolls and I painted the faces, I made dolls and she made the sample clothes, I designed many items for her to create and then we would take them along when we did the big craft shows on the east coast and sell them for her---she loved getting that extra money.

I hope she never figured out that as her work became less professional and just didn’t sell we would find a Salvation Army or Goodwill bin and make a donation and bring her home the money as if she had sold out…little deceptions are allowed sometimes.

She was terrified of ending up in a rest home-she always bore a great deal of guilt because she had put her Mother in one when she could no longer take care of her.
Luckily my sister was head of nursing at a very luxurious retirement hotel in the ritzy part of the valley but despite all we did Mother was never happy there and made sure we knew it.

I drove from Burbank over to Woodland Hills almost every day despite not being well myself at the time and she often asked when I was taking her home.

At the end knowing what I know now I’m sorry we didn’t take her home and let hospice come there-I think a few days in her own place might have made a difference…I’ll never know now.

When I went to work at Disneyland I was still quite fragile and often I would see children being horrible to their mothers-usually I could shrug it off but occasionally when I saw a Mother’s eyes well up with tears I would admonish the little devils to be kind to their Mothers since I didn’t have mine anymore…amazingly I never got into trouble for it.

We often only know the full value of a person after they are gone.
I certainly was close to my Mother and though we bickered and had spats we managed on a day to day basis to not make each other too crazy.

I think we expect our parents to live forever…I don’t know.

I read somewhere that as long as you have one parent you maintain that “safe” childlike calm but when you lose the last one you move into the position where you are guarding the gate between this world and the next-it’s one reason it is so hard for a parent to outlive their child-it just goes against the laws of nature.

I always urged my Mother to cooperate with her doctors and try to have a good outlook, I knew if she ever gave up it would be the end.

She constantly told me not to worry she wasn’t going anywhere…I didn’t count that as a promise.

On the last day I saw her-a Weds I think-it was obvious the end was coming-I’m not even sure she knew I was there, she was in and out but aware on some level.

When I am sick I always have taken great comfort in having my hair smoothed or head rubbed in a soft manner.

Without thinking I reached out to smooth her hair and she said, rather sharply, “Don’t rub my head.”

She never opened her eyes; she never looked at me…just those four words.
That was the last time I saw my Mother.

I think we must always consider that every time we see someone dear to us it may be the last time.

The last time I saw my Dad, dying of cancer, an empty shell of the man he had been I wish I hadn’t seen him-my memory even during his sickness was of the robust ruddy faced little Irish German guy he had been…but the disease had taken his toll after two years.

The last memory of my Mother…the stern rebuke.

I have always loved the speech Katherine Hepburn makes in Stage Door, though it has often been made fun of, reading it one gets the true depth of the sentiment:

“The calla lilies are in bloom again. Such a strange flower, suitable to any occasion. I carried them on my wedding day, and now I place them here in memory of something that has died...Have you gathered here to mourn, or are you here to bring me comfort?... I've learned something about love that I never knew before. That I never knew before. You speak of love when it's too late. Help should come to people when they need it. Why are we always so helpful to each other when it's no longer any use?...One should always listen closely when people say goodbye because sometimes they're not saying Good-bye they're really saying farewell"

Whatever you believe about this world and the next I don’t thinks it’s too hard to think about feelings between people and how important our partings may be.

Now I always try to say FAREWELL; Goodbye is just too final for me.


  1. Due to Chinese spammers I have had to limit comments to members of the blog-Thanks

  2. I was very close to my mother, too. She died at the age of 55 from lung cancer....she smoked Lucky Strikes from the age of 13!
    After I was married, and we lived about a mile apart, I called her every day, and we did so much together.
    Reading about the kids being rotten to their mothers sounded very familiar. I'm always hearing grown women complaining about their mothers, and all I can think is how lucky they are to still have them around.
    The weirdest thing for me was turning 56 and realizing that I was older than my mother ever got to be! I'm 65 now and am even more aware of how much life she missed out on.
    Thanks for the sweet story about your mom.


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