Sunday, March 27, 2011

So Big Love

I'm sitting in my brother's cozy kitchen, far from home (in Minnesota), listening to classical music and using his wife's laptop to check into Words Paint for the first time in several weeks. Can I even begin to write about my feelings and the events of the past two weeks? Where to start?

Family... my family in two parts.... my biological father... leaving my mother, younger brother and me so suddenly, a car accident taking his life 5 days after my fifth birthday. We were in California then, along with our grandparents and the extended family. Mom went back to college, thinking it was the only way she'd be able to support two kids; brother and I went to live with our paternal grandparents.

In college, Mom met Ed, who two years later became our step-dad. We packed up the car and moved to Minnesota, where Ed had just gotten a job teaching at the University. There started the second part of the family... Three more kids and down the road 4 grand kids and just recently a great grand kid.

Ed, bless his beautiful heart, died in 2006. Mom, missing him terribly after 59 years of the happiest and most congenial marriage I've ever seen, started to have health problems, which eventually lead to a need for nursing home care. Last January mom turned 94.

Two weeks ago, she developed pneumonia (again) and a high fever. They started her on a round of antibiotics and for a while we thought she might recover as she has in the past. A week ago Wednesday morning, my sister-in-law called to say her fever was down. But later the same day, it spiked again, higher than before. By Thursday evening, it looked like Mom might not make it. She was not rousing at all and her breathing was labored. Friday evening, March 18th, she died without waking, one of my brothers and his wife at her side.

I was not there. I have some mixed feelings about that, even though they tell me she seemed to be unaware of anything from Wednesday through the end. We don't know, do we? We just don't know what a dying person knows, what awareness they have, through which of their senses... Did she know all of the Minnesota family members, her grand kids and even the great grand baby, were in her room the day she died, holding her hands, wiping her brow, talking to her, stroking her cheeks? We don't know if she felt the love we all have for her surrounding her during this final journey. I don't know if my thoughts and prayers reached her.

Mom and I have always been close. We're alike in many ways. We look similar and have many of the same mannerisms. We share many interests... always have. Even in my rebellious years, I always got along with her. Or maybe I should attribute that to her... SHE got along with me... I've always admired and respected her, everything about her. I can't even begin to think how much I will miss her. I haven't really been able to go there yet in my mind.

Wednesday I few "home" to Minnesota to be with the Minnesota part of the family and to attend the memorial service which we had on Friday. I am so grateful to be here, to have had the opportunity to share this family time of grief and mourning. We've cried and we've laughed together, held onto each other, looked at pictures.

But under it all, I feel numb. I recognize that I'm holding back my emotions; not totally feeling my feelings, staying in my head, not allowing much of my heart to show. I've been eating a lot... not my abstinence foods, but much more snacking and larger meals than my plan allows. It doesn't seem to matter to me right now. Comfort. I'm looking for comfort and finding it partially in food, partially in sticking close to my siblings.

I'm the eldest family member now, at least on my parent's side of the family, a 68-year-old matron of the clan. I think at least three of my four siblings look at me that way. I don't know how I feel about that... I can not fill my mother's shoes, that's for sure. Dearest Mother, if only I could.

One thing I do know for sure... My mother's love surrounds me somehow... it is with me wherever I go, forever. And my love surrounds her too, wherever she is, forever. That part is absolute.

So tonight, with gratitude that she didn't have a long, suffering, painful departure, I send her a kiss and a soooooooooooooooo big love.


  1. I am so sorry for your loss. You have written a beautiful tribute to her. I see her through your eyes. What a hard working, loving woman she was. My heart is with you. -Marlene

  2. I'm so sorry. I remember your post about your mom, happily preparing to address the U.N. and feeling cheerful when you visited her. Of course, I never met her, so I think of a lovely woman who was cared for and much loved. Whether you were there or not, I'm sure that she knew and felt how much you love her. You'll be in my thoughts.

  3. Oh. You have my sypmpathies in losing your mom so unexpectedly. And I am happy for you, too--such beautiful memories and tender love that you carry with you.

    There will be time to cry and fully feel your feelings when you get home. Those memories and that love will help ease the pain.



  4. This touched me deeply... I am so sorry for your loss. And could identify with much of what you said.... about being similar to your Mother, in interests, looks, mannerisms, etc. It was like that for me, too.

    I lost my Mom in 2004, and experienced similar emotions. Or rather, a lack of them. They sort of came in little doses, as I was able to process them. I know you will, too, in your own time and way.

    And what you said about being surrounded by her love... I felt that way, too. Like Momma was woven into my life, like the threads of a beautiful tapestry... and she was there, with me, in me, a part of it all.

    I'm happy you have wonderful memories to treasure.


  5. I am so sorry for your loss. Your Big Love for your Mom is very evident from the posts you have written about her. I am fortunate that both of my parents are still living but I was extremely close to my maternal Grandmother and her sudden death age 84 completely floored me. I understand how you are feeling and feel very deeply for you.

    I also felt that love surrounding me and still do 16 years on. I am pleased that you have that Big Love and happy memories.

    My sincere condolences to you and your family.

  6. Hi Robin.
    I was thinking of you yesterday, fearing some upheaval in your life has kept you from the blog.

    I'm sorry you were not with your mom when she passed. For reasons I won't say, I wasn't with my dad and I had the same worries you have. But my belief is that our loved one's spirits say around us after they pass. They know our thoughts and stand by us when we need to feel their presence. I think they come to us. You'll see it too. You will see a woman on the street that for just that moment looks like your mom, but no, at second glance it was not her.

    It was her, letting you know she is near and watching over you.

    Be well Robin. Your mother stands with you.

    xx, Carol

  7. My heart to your heart.. Love, Light and family comfort in your time of need...

    Matron is not about filling the shoes but in sharing what was in those shoes AND adding that to who each is as an individual.

  8. I am so sorry for your loss. Hugs. I can't help but be struck by the coincidence that last week I once again blogged about losing my dad and how I had not been able to see him first and tell him I loved him. I am not a religious or spiritual person, but I am sure that your mother and my dad could feel us and our love. And maybe, still do:)

  9. So sorry for your loss, Robin. Our thoughts are with you and your family.

  10. Thinking of you in your time of loss. When we as women lose our mothers, so much goes on in our heads and hearts. I know your mom feels your love and I am glad for that. her love is being returned to you a thousand fold.

  11. Sending you love and light, dear heart...

  12. Our mothers occupy a place in our lives that no one else can. When we loose them, there is a void that cannot be filled. Happily, that void gets compressed over time, as our memories of love expand. Wait for it, accept the void, be grateful for the sustaining history your mother and you have built together.

    Finding comfort in food is normal, primal. Your spine of abstinence will hold you in good stance as you find your balance. The discoveries and strengths of the past year will guide you back to your current path when you're ready. Trust yourself. You will not be damaged by gaining a few pounds, and if you stay away from your trigger foods you'll be fine.

    I see a lot of love here from your blogging family, I can only imagine what you have with your physical family. You're doing a good job of bathing in that love. Just as you are a good example in creativity and art, you are a good example in loving our parents. Thank you, again, sweet woman, for all you share.

    Terri B-N

  13. Oh, Peacefulbird, I am so happy that you were able to go be with your family and attend your mother's memorial. After all, such rituals are for those of us still here and not for those who have gone on to other realms.

    Those of us of a certain age often find it difficult when we are forced into elderhood, sometimes kicking and screaming. Actually it is just another rite of passage, but we no more know that at the time than we know that coming out of the womb will be a marvelous thing. I'm sure that when the initial shock and feelings of being unworthy abate, you will step into the role with aplomb.

    For now, however, do not be afraid. Let whatever emotions you have come as they are ready, knowing that you are loved and supported in Minnesota, online, and in the Pacific Northwest -- your current home. And remember that a new 24 hrs can begin at any moment.

  14. Wrap your arms around you & receive a gentle but warm hug from us here in New Mexico.
    The wonderful memories of your mom will always remain in your heart which will comfort you in the years to come.
    HUGS Jody

  15. Nothing hurts worse than the death of a mother - a friend - a loved one. Bless your sweet heart!


Thank you for taking the time to comment. I appreciate it very much.