Captain’s Log 5,167
Today is the 5th anniversary of my mother’s death. She died peacefully around 2:30 AM. We had all gone back to the hotel for the night, and I laid awake waiting for the call. The nurse had pulled me aside and told me that she knew my mom very well. She told me my mom would die alone. The longer we stayed on vigil, the longer she would linger. My niece Amy and I discussed staying with her all night, but we decided to leave and give her the space she needed to move on.
I knew when I walked out of her room it would be the last time I saw her alive. I knew without a doubt that she would pass during the night. And she did. The call came and that was that. We would be making arrangements in just a few more hours.
Mom had pre-arranged her funeral 20 years before she died. She even nailed down what she wanted served at the funeral luncheon. Ham. It had to be ham. Unfortunately, the casket she picked was no longer available. Most of the pallbearers she had chosen had also died. The soloist had moved away. So we basically started from scratch. The only thing we knew for certain was the ham. How my mother loved ham.
We moved around in a daze over the weekend. There was a visitation. There was a wake. There were family members we had not seen for a very long time. Terri & Dean Tinkel drove all the way from Indiana for the funeral. It was surreal. I don’t know what we would have done without the generosity of my old friend Jean Fisch who opened her home so we had a place to gather, rest, refresh, eat, make plans, etc.
The daze and haze lasted for some time. But then, it wore off like it always does. And life began to settle back into the cracks. I found myself doing routine things again.
And then the time comes for all of us when you realize you have not thought about your mother for an entire day. You have healed enough to start making life again. It’s not that you will ever forget your mother, it’s just that you are letting go in a healthy way. The memories can come without the pain of grief. Not always. But they can come like a rush of joy. And you find yourself laughing about your mother instead of crying. And that’s the way your mom would want it to be.
My silly and irreverent mother – always clowning around and taking every opportunity to do something fun. In this photo, she is riding around in a golf cart, showing off her festive wrap-around shades and her fashionable white socks. And yes, the naughty little tongue. One of her favorite things to do in pictures.
I get my fashion sense from her.
And this is my mom years before I knew her. I can see why my dad fell head over heels in love with her.
We make peace with our losses and we shape our lives around the memories of those we once loved. I will always miss her. Grief still comes and the weirdest times, and I find myself pulling off the street because I cannot see through my tears. It never ends but it finds a place where it doesn’t hurt all the time.
Blessings to Eva Lorraine Brandes. Born May 23, 1916. Passed on May 20, 2011.