|Oct. 3rd, 2009 09:19 am Hiatus|
It has been a hard summer. 2 comments - Leave a comment
After I came back from vacation, my office was in turmoil. The two assistants that I worked with were let go and a newbie was hired. The newbie had years and years of legal experience, but did not know litigation. It was way too busy for me to train her from scratch, so after a month, she was let go too. A couple of people were switched around and a few more were let go. It got crazier. In the midst of this, my elderly mother got very ill, very quickly. My world spun out of control, then stopped altogether.
I flew back home to sit vigil with my sisters and my son and nieces and the hundreds of friends she had accumulated throughout her life. To no avail. She died.
Looking back on it now, it was as if she took a big part of me with her.
I eventually came back home and back to work. I went through my days in a sort of fog and tried very hard to understand how someone so full of life could just let it all go. The illness that killed my mother could have been resolved if she had only gone to the doctor when her symptoms first appeared. By not going to see a doctor, she chose to die instead. This information only deepened my heartbreak.
Throughout our life together, my relationship with my mother swung back and forth like a pendulum. At times, we were the best of friends and, at times, we were strangers. Sometimes I understood what made her tick and sometimes I felt I never understood anything about her. The feeling was mutual, I am sure.
I have many happy memories with my mother. Like the time the two of us were on a quest to find the perfect grape leaves for her pickle recipe. The weather was gorgeous and we drove all around the countryside with the car windows down, laughing at old family stories and singing show tunes. One of the things we shared was a love of old classic movies and a love of the music of forties and fifties. Neither of us could be considered a chanteuse, but sing we did and oro rotundo!
My mom and I played cut-throat Scrabble. My son was always delighted when we got out the board. He loved to listen to us snipe at each other and talk our own brand of smack. When we first began to play, I often held back. I didn't enjoy beating her by a large margin. Of course, over the years she began to hold her own and at the end when we played, I couldn't beat her at all -- not even when I tried.
Both of us were crossword puzzle enthusiasts and would often call the other one to work crosswords over the phone when we were stumped by a particular clue. When I was at her house, I would try to get to her newspaper before she could, just to get her puzzle. Of course, that rarely ever happened.
And we spoke on the phone every Sunday, no matter where I was or what I was doing. It was our time. Of course, I called her at other times, but Sunday was a given. Although, I had to make sure to time my calls around the Cowboys' football games, because that was her time to "play" football with my cousin Leslie. She was sitting in her chair at her home and Cousin Les, about a five/six hour drive away, would be sitting in her home. The telephone was the connection. Once when I called during "that time" she informed me that it had better be a "drive-by" call. She was very proud of that one. After that initial use, it became one of those phrases that popped up on a regular basis.
To fully appreciate that "drive-by" comment, one would have to understand my family's wit. I don't know if I can describe that kind of wit and I haven't seen it in too many other families (Debbie O's family is the only one that could hold a candle to us -- and though I hate to admit it, they are probably even better at it than we are!). We loved those snarky comments that we came up with on the fly and we understood that they weren't meant to hurt each other. Zingers were prized in my family. Along that same vein, we bought the sharpest of birthday cards for each other and by "sharp" I mean the one that had the best zinger. No sappy messages for us. We would scour the market for a card that would out-do the one we sent last and the one we last received.
Sunday phone calls. Abruptly stopped. Every Sunday, I get up thinking that I will call. It is just a thought, really. It flashes through my mind. And just as quickly, I realize that I cannot call. She is not there.
I float back and forth between despair and resolve. For seven weeks, I had no good humor. I worked. I came home. I tended to the chores that I had to do. I existed. I was raw. I was numb. I went through the motions.
Work got harder. Another co-worker left and the office hired two new people. I spent August and September training them. And working for eight attorneys. It was my salvation, I guess. It took all my focus and energy. When I came home, I was too exhausted to really care. But the new co-workers are coming around. Work has gotten more normal. I have been allowing myself to grieve. And, once in a while, I look around and realize that life is good and I am very, very blessed. I am back.