How My Mother Loved Ham

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.

mom in parade

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.

mom on bench

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.

32 Comments

Filed under Captain Poolie's observations

32 responses to “How My Mother Loved Ham

  1. What a lovely piece about your mom. 🙂

  2. *Hugs* I know my situation was different than yours, but there are still times I wish I could pick up the phone and talk to my mother. In spite of everything, she was simply my mom. You and Barb had a mom who was more of a free spirit and I believe you live better for it.

  3. Patty O'

    I lost my father in April of 1989 and my mother in September of 1992. I still catch myself reaching for the phone when there is something to share that would tickle one of them. I will always feel that desire, I’m afraid.

  4. Ter

    My father passed October 2013. It’s still sometimes new, fresh. I get crazy urges to call him to tell him something or ask about something only to remember I can’t. My new phrase of choice is “Man, Dad woulda…” and fill in with loved/hated/laughed/etc. I smile more than I cry now. My mom, meanwhile, hasn’t handled it so well. They were married 53 years, 4 kids, 8 grandkids (technically 9 now, with 2 great-grandkids) . She’s in deep mourning, to the point where refreshing her electric bill account page to see when the next bill has posted is her new favorite pastime. I’m not even kidding. I’ve given her plenty of options and she yes’s me to death (terrible unintentional pun) and sits on the couch and does nothing.

  5. bholles

    That was a rough time but glad we were there for her and told her she could go.

  6. goatbarnwitch

    Ten years since my mom passed and I still feel the grief but more the memories of her be herself. She too would stick her tongue out at the photographer lol. Peace to you today.

  7. It’s nice that you have such good memories of your mother and her passing. Blessings to you and to her.

  8. Sally Vangorkom

    Beautifully said!

  9. Valerie

    I can barely see through my tears to type this. How beautiful…. And how obvious that this came from the depths of your soul. I dread the day that I lose my mother. Thank you so much for sharing this.

  10. Any woman who looked like that AND liked ham is a babe in my book. The world is the worse for her passing. Appropriate that she raised a ham to carry on her legacy, though 🙂

  11. Penny Tushingham

    Did you know there is a myth that women always die before their birthday (they don’t want to admit being older) and men die after their birthday (they like to brag about their age). My dad died 5 days after his 87 birthday.

    Pen Pen

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