On the day she was cremated, 3 days after she passed away, I was alone in my house. I was on the other side of the country over a thousand miles away. Alone with my thoughts. Alone with my feelings. I had work to do but felt paralyzed to move forward. It felt as if time had stopped for the moment.
I wrote. I wrote because there was nothing else I could do. I tried laying in the fetal position at the foot of my bed and found my mind imagining things and questioning things.
“Did she suffer?”
“Did she know?”
What were her thoughts as she fell asleep that last night?
My questions kept coming back to, “Was she happy”?
My mother was found in her bed after not answering the phone for a couple of days. Completely out of character for her. My mother has 6 sisters, 3 adult grandchildren, and various other relatives, as well as a pretty good handful of friends. All nearby. All spoke on a pretty regular basis.
My mother lived alone. Dad passed away at the young age of 56, some 16 years ago in 2002. My mother was a very young age of 70. She had a heart condition but always took very good care of herself and so she was leading a productive, active, and healthy life on her own with no known outward health issues.
We all assume she passed away peacefully, in her sleep. I thank God she did not suffer for months with cancer or some other disease so many fall victim too, taking away the quality of their last few months or years of life. She, like my Dad, passed suddenly and unexpectedly. I can only hope for the same, merciful demise myself—at some point further down the road of course.
My mother was beautiful. Not just when she was younger, but her entire life. A brunette with naturally curly hair that she fought to straighten, I remember in the 70s when she would place her hair on the ironing board and iron her hair in the same style as Cher did at the time. As beautiful as Cher was (is), I believe my mother was prettier!
She was a tiny thing, just 5’2"ish and always kept her weight in check. She ate a healthy diet and exercised daily. She took good care of herself. Interestingly, she was very uncomfortable talking about her appearance, especially as she grew older. If someone from her past, say high school, looked her up and wanted to get together, she would always say no. When I asked her why, she said, “I don’t want them to see me like this.” Strange thing to say for those of us admiring her beauty.
She wasn’t just a pretty face. My mother was smart—very intelligent and spoke her mind. I respected that. She and my father married when she was just 15-years-old. No, she wasn’t pregnant but if you understood their backstory, you and I both would have probably made the same decision. She was a sophomore in high school, just 10th grade when she quit, but she was a wiz at math! And I remember her teaching me the different bird calls when we would hear them. She would tell me what bird it was and how to identify if it was a male or female. She assisted Dad in the office with all of his many different business startups. He had a true entrepreneur spirit.
My parents were married for over 30 years. They are now both gone. We were not always close and at times went for years without communicating but they will be missed. They had a deep love for one another throughout their entire marriage. I don’t envy much in this world but I do envy that. They were blessed to have found one another. They both shared a spirit of adventure and wanted to experience new places and things. The world was bigger than just where they came from. Although they never forgot where home was and ultimately returned, the middle of their lives was spent enjoying all they could.