Saturday, August 11, 2012

My Last Good-bye

The last post I did about my mom turned out to be the last post I did while she was living. She died later that day.  I barely got back to her room and she was gone within a couple of minutes.  I haven't cried.  Not about her dying anyway.  I haven't felt like crying. I haven't even felt sad. This sounds callous I'm sure but I felt more joy in her being able to go than sorrow for myself.

My husband thought my response was odd when people wanted to console me by saying, "It is hard to lose a parent no matter how old we are, because we can no longer call them up and talk to them".  I hadn't been able to have a real conversation with my mom for years before she died. I could no longer go to her for advice or help and in her last few months I felt like there were things I wanted advice about and couldn't ask for it.  After she died, I felt like I suddenly had the freedom to be able to speak with her.  I felt like she could hear my pondering directed toward her.  My husband asked me if Mom answered back when I talked to her. I had to smile at that. Did he think I was losing my mind?  Yes, she answers but not in words I hear with my ears.  It is more like a feeling or a thought that comes into my head.  I'm pretty sure she puts them there.  So I have felt closer to my mom since she died than I did for the years before she died. And she has been helping me through a situation that is difficult for me. I know she faced similar situations in her life and she came out of them very positively. I needed her experience to help me get through mine.

So as I said before I haven't cried in grief over my mom's passing but I did have one cry that was related to my mom.  I'll share what I wrote about what I experienced during a dance concert on campus.

"...the evening became quite profound to me during one song toward the end entitled Slumber.  I can't find the lyrics for this song to read them but I think it was simply a lullaby. The choreographer interpreted it to be about a girl dying.  Her family was grieving on this side of the veil and angels come and help the girl thru to the other side of the veil.  I think this was the first I've cried since Mom died.  John could feel it too.  I sat watching with tears streaming down my face.  I realized I wasn't crying because of sadness or feeling the loss of Mom. The dancers were depicting the people on the other side of the veil comforting the loved ones left behind, holding them up and giving strength and guidance.  I wondered how many times Mom already has and will still be sitting by our sides to give comfort or holding us up when we can't do it ourselves. It was very powerful...".

My life has changed a bit since Mom passed.  Obviously, I no longer go hang out at The Homestead four times a week though I have been there a couple of times since. I used to plan all my errands around my Homestead visits. Now my errands don't get run with any regularity because I no longer have scheduled visits.  And my dad moved back to Oregon. It has taken some adjustment to get used to him being gone.  At first I found myself thinking in terms of "oh Dad will enjoy this" or something like that, and then came the realization that he wasn't here to enjoy it.  I don't do it now as often as I did at first but it took some getting used to. Dad was never noisy, but the house seems quieter anyway.

I find little things remind me of my mom.  Often it is a visual like today when I saw a bottle of the hair goop I had bought for her, or an item I inherited from her. Today I read that my brother is putting in Lily of the Valley plants at his new house.  My mind went immediately to my mother even before he added that it would remind him of her.

Yesterday, I was running my hand through my hair when suddenly it felt like Mom's hair. My last experience with Mom was her hair.  I went with my sister, sister-in-law and aunt to dress Mom for burial.  This was not a task I enjoyed at all.  I didn't like touching her because she didn't feel like my mom.  Her skin was cold and didn't feel right and her face didn't look right to me.  As a matter of fact from the angle I first saw her, her mouth seemed to be in the scowl she would use when she was unhappy with the staff or with me after she came to The Homestead. It didn't look that way from other angles but that was my first impression when I saw her.  But the last thing I did, was to curl her hair.  I'd been doing Mom's hair for the past 4 3/4 years. It had been a comforting thing for me to do, a connection, a touch. When I curled Mom's hair in the funeral home, it felt like Mom's hair.  It felt normal, not odd or different. I was grateful to be able to do her hair as my last good bye to her.

3 comments:

Sherry said...

I love reading your posts! I could relate to this one about your Mother because I just had an experience with my mother. I was crying for help with a stressful situation and suddenly felt her almost holding me and rocking me until I was calm. I know they're so close and involved in our lives!
I'm glad you finally have your mother back!

Bill Tietjen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bill Tietjen said...

Hello, my name is Shellena Tietjen. I use to work at The homestead from 2008-2010. It wasn't until the latter part that I started to work in the Alzhiemer's building and really got to work with your mom one on one. Your mom was an interesting character to work with...as hard as I tried, she tended to wear a scowl on her face : ) I loved how she proudly talked about her homeland or her mission or how she needed to find and carry around her scriptures. It was fun trying to piece together bits of her history here and there from what I could understand! I'm sorry to hear of your mother's passing. However, I'm sure that she's in a much better place where she's able to function and think to her full capacity. I was hoping I could ask you for a very, extremely random favor. Please don't hesitate to throw it in my face if you find this at all inappropriate. While working your mother, I took notice of a beautiful, simple pearl ring that belonged to her. Perhaps you know what I'm talking about...it had one pearl on it with a few small diamonds off to the side. I'm not sure of the significance of it, but I thought it was absolutely beautiful. I took a picture of it once because I wanted to have a ring made as it's replica for my wedding ring. Over the years I have since lost the picture. I was hoping that you might have a picture of the ring by any random chance? I would be so very appreciative that if you did happen to have a picture of it, that you might be willing to email it to me: shellena.hall@gmail.com. Again, if this is at all weird, don't hesitate to tell me no. Thank you so much
Shellena