Friday, December 21, 2012

Her Name was Linda

This is my mom, Linda, when she was about the age I am now.  She was a hippy to be sure, and these are two of my favorite photos of her.

I wrote this in 2008, on my mother's birthday.  I've had it hanging around cyberspace, looking at it occasionally, and further reflecting on my life, her life, and death:

     Her name was Linda.  She would have been 56 today.  I miss her SO much!  Even after almost three years it's hard to believe she is gone.  I still want to call her and tell her what's happening in my life, she liked hearing about things happening here.  The Black Hills are beautiful but they don't offer much excitement.  I want to tell her about graduation and work, new people I've met.  I'm sure we would be having some excellent discussions about the current state of the US.  I could tell her about some good books I've read recently. 
    She was always reading, just like me.  Sometimes she looked sad sitting alone at the kitchen table with just a book or nursing journal.  I would talk to her then about everything, most of the conversations were one sided.  She was a very good listener but if she had something to say she would let you know.  Actually, the more I think about it, I don't think she was sad when she was reading, she was just absorbed.  It was her time to relax and just be herself.  She didn't have much time for that during the day.  I would give anything for just one more talk at the kitchen table.  Well, even if she were here it wouldn't be, it was destroyed in the fire like everything else, but that's for another depressing blog entry.
    I  can still hear "Bridge Over Troubled Water" playing in the background, it was Mom's favorite.  When she was sick with cancer and losing her hair from chemo, she said hearing it would instantly make her feel better. 
    I remember watching her get ready for work.  Before the VA relaxed on its nurses' dress code she had to wear a very traditional nursing uniform: all white.  Sometimes she would wear a white skirt but usually it was these horrible white polyester pants.  The top was a polyester button up, short sleeved, with big pockets on the front.  I would watch her pull her hair up into a bun and fasten it with a silver clip.  Sometimes she would use the pretty tooled leather one I bought her.  Then she would put her pins on her lapel: an angel, her gold SDSU nursing school pin, and her R.N. certification pin.  Even though no one should ever wear an all white polyester pant suit, I don't care if it is before Labor Day, she always looked nice. 
    When I was about 9, I started to learn to drive, one of the many perks of living in the country.  I was a good driver then, and I'm a great driver now.  However, sometimes I would go a little faster than the "legally acceptable speed" so, when I was in the car Mom wouldn't call me Rita, I was Parnelli.  Alisha was Andretti, and I think Val was Earnhardt.
    My father and brother are in the Big Horns right now celebrating Mom's birthday.  They took some of her ashes along to spread, so maybe she is with them today.  I wish I was.   I don't think I can bring myself to write some trite adage about loss and grief and renewal.  I can say it sucks, basically.  All of them hurt and are time consuming.  Sometimes it is nice to remember though.
    Well Mom, I know you aren't around, and it will do me more good than you but:
"When you're weary, feeling small,
When tears are in your eyes, I will dry them all;
I'm on your side, when times get rough
And friends just cant be found,
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down.
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down"

Happy Birthday.

Love Always,
Your Daughter Rita

It's now been seven years since she died, and I am still profoundly sad about it, albeit in a different way.  My sadness has changed from a giant abyss full of numbness to a much more nuanced mix of regret, anger, guilt, and sorrow.  The sadness, at this point, is really the ultimate form of selfishness as it is entirely about my own feelings of being deprived of something special and important.  Despite this, the realization that there has been a change is the important part.  The process of moving from gaping maw to subtle understanding has been long and challenging at times.     

My Pandora station just brought up Here Comes the Sun by The Beatles.  This was the last song we played at her funeral (over the objections of my dear grandmother who didn't want "any hippy music").  I could not see it in 2005, and it was not on the horizon in 2008, but in 2012 the ice is slowly melting, smiles are returning to comes the sun.

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