It’s been five years since my mother went to sing with the angels. Well, that may be open to interpretation. She had a bad singing voice and often quoted the verse “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord”. In her defense, she had typhoid fever when she was a child and that seemed to destroy her ear for music. She always enjoyed it, but she had no sense of rhythm or ability to hear if one note was higher or lower than another one.
I miss her, but I had missed the woman she had been for several years before she died. You see, she was a victim of chronic pain. So, her passing was in a way, a blessing. I think of her now no longer being in pain, and being the Mama I knew most of my life.
She had osteoporosis. And she had a bad case of it. She had seven vertebrae crack or collapse and lost several inches of height because of it. There was a time I was two inches taller than she, the last time I hugged her, I could put my chin on top of her head with no stretching. She took the usual medications supposed to help build bones again and all they did was give her bone spurs on her spine which caused more pain.
Deep in the night, five years ago, the phone started ringing. We usually ignored the phone in the middle of the night, it was usually a drunken wrong number. I heard it ring and hang up two times, then I hear my cell phone start ringing. If they knew both numbers, it was not a wrong number. I called back, not knowing the number, and it turned out to be the cell phone number of the first responder who came to the house.
She was finally released from the pain. I had prayed for that, knowing there was only one answer.
Her birthday was in another 7 days and for some reason, I had felt an urgency to get her birthday card in the mail early. That meant she got it in time.
The night before, I had dreamed of Mama and Grandma in someone’s living room, talking and catching up on things that had happened since Grandma died. Kind of like Saturdays used to be when we visited Grandma when I was a kid. I was just sitting there, listening, probably looking at a book or magazine like I did back then. I still believe they are exploring the mysteries of the universe together. They were both science teachers and both eternally curious about the workings of the universe.
I find myself wishing I could tell her things, find things I know she would have liked to see. I miss her but don’t miss her living in the pain.
I don’t wish for my mother back the way she was at the end of her life. But I do miss her that way she was years ago. I had grieved for that loss so long before she was finally released that the end was not so bad.
She was a student of nature and a great birder.* She had an impressive life list and the majority of my life list was accumulated during trips and vacations when I was young. It was something I absorbed by osmosis along with a sense of noticing things and wanting to know the names of them. She was a tree-hugger and Daddy actually took a picture of her hugging an aspen tree on her favorite trail in the Colorado mountains.
So, I will shed a few tears for her tonight, and go on tomorrow like life goes on without the ones we love.
This weekend, I am visiting my father and we may have a cry together. Or share some laughs and fond memories. Or both.
* bird watcher and collector of identifying as many different kinds of birds as possible. Go watch the movie “The Big Year” with Steve Martin and Jack Black. I’ll wait.