Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Mom Leans Down And Says "My Sentiments Exactly."

HERE IS A POST I STARTED WRITING A WEEK AGO. I NEVER FINISHED IT.

I have a blog? Is that like a responsibility or something? It is? Okay.

So. What's crappening?

No matter how much I work, it never seems to be enough for my masters. They want more! Last weekend I took my family to California for my mothers funeral. Yes, she died over a month ago. She was creamated and we buried her ashes. Those are the more prominent reasons why I haven't written.

Also. The other night I was doing brainless work moving boxes and furniture and finally came across a little time-to-think. It was strange. And I found that the more time I had to think, the less I liked it. So I've been avoiding that particular activity and returned successfully to my previous plan of killing myself by working. But not thinking works against ideas for blogging and that is another reason I haven't written.

How was California? The weather was incredibly enjoyable. Especially since people had warned me that it would rain the entire time we were there. It felt like summer. It was most bizarre to drive out from snowy mountains into a land of trees with leaves and fruit trees with colorful blossoms. It was really nice. And it gives me hope that Utah will soon be a place with leaves on the trees. But I'm not going to count on that because I've been freezing my butt off in the snow at work ever since I came home.

My mother's funeral went well. I think she would have liked it. I want my funeral to be in the same place with many of the same people. So don't let my wife tell you otherwise. Her family has their own cemetery on my grandpa's mountain.

Before I forget, I would like to say THANK YOU to all of our friends and family. I never would have guessed that my mother's passing would inspire people to give me plants. And flowers. And cards. And money. And thank you to all who have given me their support. There are a lot of you.

When my mother was sick, I only worried about HER suffering. I didn't worry about myself. Now that she's died, I'm constantly realizing how it affects my own life. It's hard not to feel ripped off. Even little things irk me. I talked to my stepfather. Of course, he's having a hard time of it. But he told me that HIS mother was staying with him for a while to help him out. And I couldn't help but think, "What if MY wife dies 20 years from now? Who's going to stay with me?" Or even when I finish reading a book and I read the Author's Page at the back and they say things like, "Thanks to my father for his strength and thanks to my mother for listening to me cry." And then I think, "I'll never get to write a thank you page like that for her." Anyway, it's weird --- the little things that irk me. I guess I'm jealous of others for having their mothers.

But at the same time, I know several people who wouldn't be able to handle this type of loss. I'm sad about it, but I can still function. So I figure maybe it's better that I suffer it then the others.

My friend Geppetto seemed interested in talking to me about the whole thing. I think it's because his mother has gone through some serious health issues in the past few years, so I think he was relieved to talk to someone who understands. I said to him, "It's strange. Your mom will always love you no matter what you do. Now I can't call her just to complain about life anymore. If I go bankrupt, I can't live on her couch anymore. When I need money, I can't call her and ask anymore."

Geppetto said, "You can call me to complain about life. And your always welcome to stay with us. But DON'T call here asking for money."

It's a generous and caring offer but it's still not mom.

Now it feels like I'm living life without a safety net. Aside from all of your future plans involving mom being unexpectedly canceled, there is a new fear. I think that as people, we are ALL on our own. Even when we think we're not. And moms are the closest thing to making that statement untrue. It just feels like I am even more on my own now.

I also keep having this strange urge to call my mom. Like none of this ever happened. And it's a kick in the teeth to have to remind myself that she'll never be answering her phone again. Even though the Caller ID on my cell phone says "MOM" when my stepdad calls me from his house.

I always thought I was good at accepting things but this will take some getting used to. When my family arrived at the house that my grandpa built and raised his kids in, I wanted to walk up to the cemetery before the ceremony so I wouldn't be so surprised by the situation when the place was full of people. It shook me some. A little later I took my wife there, thinking it wouldn't be as hard on her. But there we stood, in a field surrounded by trees. We walked through the picket fence and passed the graves of my mom's dead cousins. Near the back we found the plaque where her father was buried. Next to it was the plaque where her mother was buried. And next to that was a freshly dug hole in the ground. With a pile of moist dirt standing next to it, seeming impatient to get back in the hole.

The moment my wife saw the open grave she spun around with tears flowing from her eyes. She mumbled, "I can't do this." The hole was certainly a heartless thing. It was the unwanted guest at the party. I told my wife I was sorry for showing her the hole.

The ceremony was held in the front yard of the house. Facing a bank of dirt with tall evergreens perched on top and honeysuckle vines climbing the walls. I showed my kids how you could pick the flowers and suck the nectar out of the flower funnel.

My Uncle John read an obituary written by my stepdad and he also read some things my mother had written. She wrote about how the world is an unforgiving place and that we should all take care of each other. She wrote about the people that took care of her. She wrote about history and the importance of telling stories.

After a bunch of stuff like that, my Uncle John invited people to say anything they wanted to about my mother. It was mostly my mothers co-workers who spoke about her. I was very surprised that any of them would travel to such a far off cranny of California to pay their respects.

I was hoping that somebody close to my mother would say something but nobody did. My brother and sister wouldn't. My stepfather wouldn't. My mother's brothers and sister didn't talk. I didn't want my mother to only be represented by her co-workers. I almost never cry and I thought that shyness was the only thing holding people back, so I stood up to say something.

The second I stood up, I understood exactly why nobody close to my mom would say anything. I tried to say, "I would like to say something..." But I couldn't even get those words out. Something was horribly, horribly wrong with my voice. It squeeked and croaked and my eyes felt like water faucets before I'd even said anything. But once I was up, I was up and I had to talk. So I ignored the croaking and blubbering that veiled my words and I talked for quite a while. When I sat down, I asked my wife, "Could you understand a single word I said?" She said she could.

Cause even though I was crying, I didn't TALK like a wuss. I think I probably talked about how I write here. I made some jokes and tried to paint a picture of who she was as a person because I didn't want people thinking that the only thing she could do was take care of a forest. Everyone kept telling me I did a good job afterward, so I hope that I did.

The day after the funeral was Easter and we stayed with my older sister and her kids. They got easter baskets and we did an egg and candy hunt at my father's house. Then we all went to the ocean.

It was drizzly rain at the ocean but you barely noticed. I thought I was smart telling everyone to leave their shoes in the car when we got there, but as soon as my son got to the water, he laid right down in the soupy sand left by a receding wave with his pants and sweatshirt on.

I said, "Ethan! What are you doing?"

He stared at me, wondering why he was cursed to have such dense parents. He said, "Getting wet." Duh!

My daughter was playing tag with the waves. She'd chase the waves out and then the waves would chase her back to the dry sand. She was running from a wave but she tripped and the wave smothered her. I saw her eyes get huge and I saw panic setting in as cold foamy water swirled recklessly around her. I said, "Livvy! It's okay. You're alright. Don't worry." And I plucked her out of the water and laughed at the sand stuck to her face and up her nose and in her mouth. I got her to shore and she spit repeatedly. She was totally soaked but I told her we could buy her some new clothes. She'd just have to be naked for a little while.

She said that she hated the ocean. I said, "No! Livvy! You're fun. Fun people get wet at the ocean. Didn't you see how everyone was smiling and laughing at you? You made them happy."

Even as she walked along with sand in her underwear and shivering in the cold, she said, "It was kind of fun."

We got her some dry clothes and ate at a chinese buffet and went to the theater to watch "Horton Hears A Who." Which isn't really worth mentioning aside from the fact that that's what we did.

We were only there for two days. Right before we drove away I went to visit my mother's grave one last time. Her best friend bought a lot of flowers and plants to make a garden near her grave and I wanted to see if they had been planted. Up on the hill, the flowers were all arranged but not in the ground.

My mom's brother Frank found me there and talked to me about the plants. He was surprised that I knew the names of a lot of the flowers. We talked for a while and then I said, "I left my wife and kids in the car. I better get going." Then he handed me some money. He said, "Don't refuse this. I know it's hard when your young. Just take it. Hell. When I was your age, my dad gave me a credit card. So take the money because I'm not giving you my credit card."

5 comments:

Inside Stories said...

Would it be therapeutic for you to get a journal and write down your mom's stories in it? It would be preserving both her stories and history. I think your mom might like that, too. Just a suggestion. I know you're a writer.
Thanks for telling about the funeral. It sounds llike it was nice, and it sounds like you did a good job with what you said.

Amber said...

i know it sounds corny and cliche but you can still talk to your mom, and she will even still talk back - just not out loud

Dr.Psycho said...

this blog touched me...I have never lost anyone except two great-grandparents and a grandfather so I am not familiar with death...But I know in the next 10-20 years I will be dealing with a lot more death in the family...It must be hard...

Franklin & Lisa Spees said...

Emmett... you are a really good writer. I enjoy peeking in on your blog now and then. I wish I could have been at the funeral. I was happy to hear that Thomas made it up. I just moved to Fresno (where Thomas lives now). Take care....

Epitome of Sweetness said...

Do you have any pictures of your Grandpa's mountain?