It’s now two months since your passing.
I survived your funeral, made it through my first motherless Mother’s Day and am slowly re-entering everyday life. But I need to tell you Mom, it’s not easy.
I never thought we were terribly close. We actually spent more time butting our Irish heads together than not. Affection was not part of our history either. The turn of your cheek as I kissed you was the sum total of our physical interaction. But one thing we always could do was talk. Usually from opposite ends of the spectrum, mind you, but nonetheless we talked.
I called you every day. Our routines rarely varied. I’d ask about your lunch. You’d review CNN news. We’d talk about your grandchildren. Occasionally, you’d mention neighborhood happenings. Then I’d wish you good night and say good-bye. For the last 15 years, that was our routine.
Occasionally, the pattern changed. I would guiltily miss a day. You would take the initiative and call me. If I wasn’t home, you refused to leave a message. You would just hang up muttering “damn machine.” Eventually, you accepted modern technology and spoke. Your standard message, “You know who I am. You know my number. Bye!” It was always a toss-up which was more frustrating — your hang-ups or your messages.
In the fall of 1995, you fell ill. Time and a careless lifestyle were seeking their revenge. Hospitalization was necessary. Doctors predicted the worst.
“Not my mom,” I thought.
Little did they know about the strong-willed Irish woman lying in their sterile bed. You survived and returned home. The daily patterns of our phone calls continued. You were indestructible. Or so it seemed to me.
Three years later, almost to the day, you again lost a skirmish against the vices battling for your body. Again you traveled to the hospital. Again the doctors predicted doom and gloom. “Not my mom,” I insisted. You people still don’t know who are dealing with. Again you won the battle and came home. Only this time to my domain.
Your advancing diseases would no longer allow you an independent lifetstyle. Health officials warned me against bringing you into my home. They felt you were too touch a patient to handle.
“Not my mom!” I decided living together would make up for time we missed while I was growing up and you were working. On a rainy Thanksgiving Eve, I bundled you up and brought you to my home.
In March, five days before St. Patrick’s Day, you died. You basically stopped eating and slowly wasted away. Nothing I could say or do made a difference. We argued regularly about diet and nutrition. I even stooped to the “you know you are killing yourself” sermon.
You calmly responded that you didn’t have a death wish. You just weren’t hungry. At the time I didn’t understand. Today it is very clear to me that there is an intrinsic difference between a death wish and a desire to live.
Now you are gone. I wish every day for the chance to call you. To talk about nothing, to argue about everything.
I think were I not your daughter, I would have judged you a truly remarkable woman. Unfortunately, the characteristics that made you strong as a woman and successful as a career person are the same traits that put us in opposition as mother and daughter.
The perspective of your death allows me now to see that so clearly. It is also totally irrelevant.
I just miss you and wanted to talk. Love, Christy