Friday, September 12, 2014

This Time Last

A game I like to play. This time last week I was at work writing about makeup. This time last month I was on vacation. This time last year I was holding my mom's hand.

But this time today I have butterflies in my stomach. Isn't that strange? Of all the things I thought I would feel, I never once thought I would be nervous.

This is what I remember: she had not spoken for days, maybe a week. Had not eaten. Her eyes were not really closed. The Hospice workers told me they had never had someone hold on for so long, and this made me feel both proud and sad. I wanted her to know that she could go.

I remember pulling the sheets up at the end of her bed and feeling like I was doing something I shouldn't be doing. But I had read that the skin gets mottled before death, the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet. So I pulled the sheets up and held her feet. They were purple and blotchy. I went out to tell the Hospice workers about her feet and that I was going home to get some stuff so I could spend the night there, but they said no, her breathing was not yet rattled. They said I should come back in the morning and plan to spend the next night there. So I kissed my mom and left.

This is what I regret, that I was not there for her when she passed. I should have been there, holding her hand and not so concerned about the soles of her feet.
This time today it's been a year since. I try to remember her strong, happy, her sense of humor, her wit.
Dressed as Nurse Ratched for Halloween.
Here. Here is a story I want to tell about my mother. (If you are my dad, however, or even my in-laws, you really probably don't want to read this next part.)

(Trust me.)

One night a long, long, looong time ago Bryan came over to my house to help me with a speech I had to give in my senior high school Humanities class. It was about Bruegel, the Flemish Renaissance painter, which really has nothing to do with anything except maybe The Seven Deadly Sins. At the time we lived in a house with Jack and Jill bedrooms for my brother and me, only my brother was in college already. So Bryan and I were in my room with the bedroom door closed and locked doing something we really shouldn't have been doing but we were doing it, or I should say *I* was doing it to him, when all of a sudden I felt Bryan's body stiffen. Like his entire body. It all happened so fast, but I looked behind me and saw my mom's reflection in the bathroom mirror. Shit! Shit! Shit! It was like a funhouse reflection of ohnononononothisdidnotjusthappen. She had come through my brother's room to tell us something and instead saw something. Of course she turned and fled, leaving Bryan and me scrambling to get dressed. Bryan was freaking the fuck out, saying he was never coming over again, that he was going to leave through my window, etc., etc. when all of a sudden a folded up piece of paper slid beneath my door. I unfolded it to read:

Dear Susannah
Please know that I will always love you, no matter what you do. And I will never tell your father what I just saw.
p.s. Bryan's tips on how to give a good oral report are better than any I would have come up with.

And that, my friends, is how witty my mom was. I opened my bedroom door and she was standing there laughing and gave me the biggest hug.

So yeah, I just honored the memory of my mom with a story about me giving Bryan a bj. But we're married now so it's all legit, plus my mom always loved that story even if we couldn't really look each other in the eye when talking about it.

Now I'm off to go back to bed, another way to honor her. If you don't believe me that lazing around in bed on a beautiful sunny day is a way to honor her, is a Valentine I found that she made. For her bed.
Also, if you knew my mom at all in real life, just watch this video of Bette Midler signing The Rose and you can truly sense my mom. She loved to play this song on the piano and sing it. She had the prettiest voice. So this is how I am ending this post.

This time last to this time next and forever. I love you I love you I love you, and I miss you so so much.



Zakary said...

Much love to you. And don't beat yourself up about not being there with her, that's the way she had to have it.


Buff said...

To borrow a line from Steel Magnolias - Laughter through tears is my favorite emotion! Wonderful post!

Emily said...

Me too for the laughing and crying. You mom was absolutely one of a kind. Thanks for the story, and love to you.

Richie Designs said...

I agree with Zakary. I think she wanted it that way.

and that story, my mom would have never been so cool. So good for you and her!


Kirsten said...

Such a beautiful tribute. I honestly read your posts about your mom as parenting how-tos. We should all have children who love us so deeply. I read these stories and they inspire me to be more patient, funnier, more fierce and adventurous and kind. Good thoughts to you guys. Thank you so much for your beautiful writing.
-Old neighbor Kirsten

Anonymous said...

I love that story! Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Susannah, you are a reflection of your mother; you're just as witty as her and a compassionate mother to Zoey and Ozzy - just like she was! She taught you well and you'll pass it on.

Your story reminds me of the time my parents were out of town for the weekend and my then boyfriend and I used my parents king size bed while they were gone. It certainly beat my twin sized one and since it was raining, we spent all day long in bed. And since it was raining, my parents came home early and found us in their bed. Red faced we quickly got dressed, boyfriend left in a hurry and when I joined my parents in the living room, preparing for my punishment, my mom simply said: "That's our playground, not yours, and we like to keep it that way!" This was the extend of it and we never spoke about it again. Can't beat European parents :-)

Cathi said...

Such a beautiful and funny tribute - your mom sounded like such a wonderful woman with a great sense of humor - something she gave to you! She most likely waited for you to leave before she passed, the same thing happened to my mom when her mom passed away. Sending you love tonight! xxoo

Anonymous said...

Your mum sounds like one of the best mothers anyone could want.

Nancy Fastenau, Fastenau and Associates said...

I am Bryan's aunt and therefore related to Susannah (hooray). I understand the sentiment because I, too. Lost my mother. She was in few ways like your mom, especially when it came to her kids and sex. But I know how much you loved her and she did a fine job raising a wonderful daughter.

Gretchen said...

Just <3

Molly said...

Your Mum is still cackling about this I'm sure.
Lots of love to you xxx

Heidi said...

You honor her beautifully.

Anonymous said...

I burst out laughing reading this post. What an awesome mom she was and I hope you got an A + on your report.

Good Enough Woman said...

Thank you so much for this story. Now I know what to do if I catch my own kids in the act (quite a few years from now, I hope).