Jan 282008

Since I am going on and on and on about my mom these days….

My mom was under 5 feet tall.
My mom never weighed more than 100 pounds in her life. Like, really. Even if she was on anabolic steroids, she wouldn’t have touched 100 pounds. (Though I shudder to think of her with a neck as big as my thigh.)

When I was a teenager, Randy Newman had an actual hit on the AM airwaves with his song “Short People”.
My mom thought that was one of the most brilliant pieces of satire, a well aimed poke at our inclination to persecute the “other”, all packaged up in hatred towards short people.
It baffled me at the time that she wasn’t offended, she thought it was a great social critique.

My mom rocked.

“They got little baby legs that stand so low
You got to pick them up just to say hello
Well I don’t want no short people
Don’t want no short people
Don’t want no short people
round here.”

It’s just on my mind tonight.

 Posted by at 10:00 pm
Jan 262008

Yesterday was, or depending on your perspective, would have been my mom’s birthday. One of the strange things that comes up around my mom’s death is which tense to use in which situation. Like, was yesterday her birthday? Do dead people have birthdays? I really don’t know.

It’s also strange because my parents’ house is being put on the market. Now, I stumble when I say “my parents’ house” because it seems to me I really should have erased my mother from that equation and updated it to “my father’s house”. Except the ironic part is, my father hasn’t even been in that house since my mom died. And on that technicality, I feel I am allowed to continue referring to it as my parents’ house.

It’s also strange because my mother spent a lot of time telling us, her three kids, which bits of Harris treasure we would get or inherit when the time came. Well, the time has come. What is it they say about the best laid plans?

We ain’t no kin to the Rockefellers but when my parents bought something, which wasn’t that often, they bought good stuff. We had a very nice dining room suite that was promised to my brother. As a kid, it always annoyed me that he got the most cherished chunk of the inheritance pool. Now it’s time to move all that stuff from my parents’ home, and my brother has no room for that dining room suite. In a different life, I would love to have it, but simply don’t have the space and I shudder to think what my cats would do to it. My sister also is suffering from space restrictions.

It’s just a very strange feeling to have been told for your whole life that one day you will own this thing. And the thing has been assigned value by the very act of someone wanting to pass it along; of making a point of passing it along, because it mattered to them. And now there is nowhere for it to go, except maybe to an auction house. It’s caused me to look around my place and imagine what bits of stuff that I have that might get passed on to someone else, and what parts will end up in the landfill cuz most of us have very little room for more stuff.

So, my parents’ home has to be emptied out so someone else can move into it. And while I have never lived in that house, I still feel a strange loss. It’s not the loss of “my home”, per se. Only twice in my life have I felt like the house I lived in was “my home” and this house doesn’t qualify. But there is the loss of some sort of safety net. I suppose it’s another step in finalizing the growing up thing. There is absolutely no safety net anymore. That’s okay, it’s just a new feeling.
I try to imagine what it will be like, in the future, to drive along that highway and *not* take the exit that leads to my parents’ home, to just keep on driving till I land in a motel room further on up the road.

It also means facing the fact that lots of things that were important to my mom have no place to go and so they will probably go to the Goodwill or to the dump. That process, the throwing away of something she valued and in many cases made by hand, that’s the part that almost kills me.

Sometime in the next month or so, between work and school, I will go and help my siblings empty out my parents’ home. And I feel an astounding level of dread whenever I think about that, for quite a few reasons. A big one is that emptying out the house, the house I don’t care about, will bring a whole new level of finality to the situation. It feels a bit like closing a door on my parents.

I’m still working through it all.

 Posted by at 12:19 pm
Jan 122008

It’s been a typically long while since I last posted. Someone left me a little nudge in my comments section and the light went on. The magic one that appears above my head in my more animated moments.

See, it’s a weird thing with we cancer bloggers that if you don’t post for some chunk of time, people begin to worry. It’s a strange kinship. But it’s also a very good thing. It’s an experience unlike any other that I have had. I have become part of a secret club that nobody would ever wish to join, but now that we are here so we do our best to help each other and keep an eye on each other and share information about treatment and surviving in general. And in many cases we could pass on the street and not know each other. But, I am deeply affected by the good things and the bad things that happen in the lives of these folks and I suspect others have the same experience.
It’s strange, but a very good sort of strange and I am awfully glad that folks are out there, doing those things.
I’m also glad for my local face to face comrades. We all share something and, not to be all Sesame Street about it, but the sharing is good.

So, how’ve I been?
You know, I really couldn’t say. Which isn’t a very helpful response because you’d think me, of all people, ought to be able to at least fudge an answer.
But I think my mom’s death sort of hip checked me into some new and different frame of mind. It’s difficult to describe and mostly I am still trying to figure it out.
Some wee snippets of it are things like…. at Christmas this year, I had this small but constant sadness that I would never get a Christmas present from my mom ever again. Now, the reality is, my mom hasn’t been able to participate in Christmas for about 5 years. And I was not someone who believed she would ever have a miracle recovery from Alzheimers and we would all slide back to happier times. But it was the absolute finality of it that kept nipping at me.
And it wasn’t about needing or wanting some more stuff. It was a sense of missing how my mom used to put a lot of care and attention into the presents, and the wrapping itself was a work of art.

When my dad had to step up and take over that detail there was a marked change in the whole deal.
My dad, who has non Alzheimer’s related memory problems in that he just plain spaces things out, would send us each a smoke detector, some wrenches and a few screwdrivers all with their Canadian Tire price tag still on it. Often there would also be a one pound can of beer. Like I said, memory problems.
And I don’t mean to take away from the things my dad did. Because they are sweet in the way he tried so hard to do this thing, a thing he had never done before and here he was, an all grown up man, having to learn how to do the Christmas shopping for his grown kids. And are there any people more difficult to shop for than your adult relatives?
But I digress.

I tried pretty hard to do the ‘it’s just another day’ version of Christmas this year. But on the inside, it was a pretty introspective time. Which is okay. There are far worse ways of spending Christmas than being introspective, and I am guessing at least a few people reading this had them. It’s a tough time for lots of people. This year was tough, but not as tough as I had expected.

Okay, so Christmas is over.

It seems the current plan in family-land is to sell my parents’ home, though I guess I should say ‘my dad’s home’, but right now, I don’t feel like it.
And that creates another strange set of emotions. My dad is now enjoying all the mod-cons of a care facility and no longer needs a house. It all makes sense. So the siblings, and myself if I can squeeze in the time between work and school, will go to that wretched town and empty out my parents’ home and then it will be sold.
Now bearing in mind that this house is not one I have ever lived in myself. And that I hate hate hate the town my dad lives in. I still have this eerie feeling that there will no longer be that home base, that spot you can always sneak back to if the spit hits the spam in your life. The old safety net.
Given that I have never really used it as a safety net, it’s not so much of a loss in real terms. It was some strange under-utilized form of stability so, I suppose I should go create its replacement, though I don’t have a clue what that will mean or what it will look like.

That’s about it for now. Things are different. Still strange, still difficult more often that I would wish for (but who can’t say that?) but in a calm sort of way.

And to leave this on a trashy pop culture up-beat note, I am currently smitten, in a movie-star smitten sort of way, with Helena Bonham Carter. I watched the 5th Harry Potter movie one day last week and saw Sweeney Todd the next. Helena Bonham Carter does evil so good.

 Posted by at 11:55 am