Wednesday, November 01, 2006

And Happens, And Happens...
It happened. I'm alone. I'm an orphan.

It's been a little over a month now.

Mother succumbed to her illness at 11:42 AM, Saturday, September 30, 2006. She'd been in the hospital with weakness for a couple weeks. They'd done surgery to implant chest and feeding tubes to help her feel more comfortable and had every reason to believe she would go home the following week and be blessed with several more weeks or months ahead. Mid-week following the surgery, her urine output diminished. She ended up suffering the same fate as Dad: renal failure. Complicated with a compromised liver, her body was unable to handle the toxins coursing through her. There is a condition that I think is called hydroencephaly (something like that) where the toxins swell the brain, causing confusion and eventually coma. I was with her from Friday morning when she was still coherent until she died. Over the course of 24 hours, she gradually stopped responding to stimuli and slipped into a coma. She left us peacefully, almost unnoticed, it was so subtle. I held her hand until the very end.

She was laid to rest next to Dad on October 3rd.

The unanswered questions will remain that way. Funny how you can't think of what to ask when they're right there, but later, when it's too late, odd questions pop into your head. The more I analyze our relationship, the more questions arise. Realizations such as perhaps her own mother reacted to her dreams and ideas much the same way she did to mine. Mother only just started telling me the "dark side" of Grandma. Apparently, Grandma was controlling and manipulative. Hmm.

It's occurred to me that Dad was the one I should have gone to for advice, but that I often wound up talking to Mother instead. Dad was so reticent. Dad was like NPR; Mother was Monday Night Football on a widescreen at a sports bar. Conversations would begin with me "listening" to NPR, soft, quiet, soothing tones. Then someone would turn on Monday Night Football, and drown out Dad with the noise. Dad would discuss things with me but Mother would always interject and eventually override him with sheer volume and exuberance. And Mother was always quick to jump in with HER opinion, which soon became YOUR opinion, because there was no getting around it once she'd made up her mind.

I've realized that all of my decisions were made for me by my Mother.

I would go to them needing help researching an idea. Say, college majors or career planning. I'd go to them and present my initial idea: "I've been thinking of majoring in fibers in college, getting a BFA." Before I could even spell out reasons why or present any data to back up my reasons, Mother would jump all over it. I'd state my sentence. Dad would open his mouth to say something, and Mother would blast out "Why? Why would you want to major in that? I thought the whole idea of going to college was so you'd be able to get a job at the end. What can you really do with a major in fibers?" Dad's mouth would clamp shut and my defensiveness would begin to rise. The further the conversation went, the more defensive I would become, because every attempt to support my claim sounded feeble, and she'd jump all over that, too. Pretty soon I felt like an idiot for even suggesting it.

She could have reacted differently. She could have shown polite interest, listened to my reasoning, and then allow ME to make the decision. Even if she didn't agree. She could have phrased her objections more positively. Example:

"Don't be ridiculous. Nobody ever makes any money doing THAT. What are you going to live on?!? We can't support you forever!!!"

"It's very difficult to survive on an artist's salary. You'll probably have to get another job outside of that to support yourself"

"Well, you've certainly chosen a challenging career, but if you work hard enough, you'll probably do all right"

"Well, you'll have a bit of a challenge, but you're smart, capable, and talented and I have faith that you'll do well"

At least she could have said it's gonna be a challenge, but give it a shot and see where it goes.

But she didn't. She usually blasted me before Dad even had a chance to speak. For some reason, I had many conversations alone with Mother with Dad elsewhere, but not as many with just Dad. Mother was always there, to the point that the prospect of a few hours alone in the car with Dad on a road trip was agonizing to me, because he was SO difficult to talk to. It's hard to talk to someone who remains silent and doesn't say what's on his mind. Like driving with a rock. His mother never let him talk. Funny, neither did Mother, come to think of it. Wonder if that's why he married her? Because she was "familiar"?

That's what my mind has been occupied with today. Where will I go from here? I have a few ideas I'm tossing around. For now, I'll stay put. The house where I'm currently living (theirs) is paid off, free and clear; my house will soon be gone; once the Will goes through Probate, there will be a tidy nest egg for me. There is time to decide. Time to grieve and time to heal.

To everything, there is a season. My parents' season is finished.

My season has just begun.

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