Friday, October 21, 2016

Day 154

An up-and-down busy day.

Morning walk just like every vacation day.  I'm really enjoying the audiobook component - never got into them till now but it's far more engaging than music or any of the podcasts I've tried...don't know why but anything that distracts me so effectively from the "ohghawd this is so BO-o-o-ring" part of exercise is full of win in my book.

Then I was no longer distracted and started thinking about my mother.  As I mentioned earlier, today would have been her 75th birthday. She died three and a half years ago and the biggest emotion I had then and still do now is relief, which is something you can't really say very many places.  Even on my own damned sobriety blog I have a hard time admitting it. The other big emotion is anger at all of the various ways her version of crazy altered my life: as I told Eldest, "it's like she was a really gnarly fungus and the mycelia went everywhere."

Then my phone died. I was in such a negative place I was all "of COURSE it would be TODAY that it died." Stomped and pouted around then realized "dummy, this is civilization: there's a Verizon store less than two miles from here." So instead of being a sulky mess I verified that I was indeed due for an upgrade, took my broken phone and went to the Verizon store.

Amazing how getting out of the house and around people, any people, can help. Can't -keep- being a pouty mess over your dead mother in front of hipsters young enough to be your kids and that means those feelings don't keep auto-reinforcing and thus give way to something more productive.  Walked out of the store with an iPhone 7 and a plan that will actually be ten to fifteen dollars _less_ per about turning a day around!

Spouse needed a computer adapter so Eldest and I went on a road trip later in the day and that was pretty good too.  She and I love each other but we've both said we're kind of like sine waves just -slightly- out of sync...but today we harmonized and it was really cool.

One brief and fleeting thought of booze in the car on the way back from the computer store adventure...just a quick "hey, it's Friday evening and it's your mother's birthday and you're on vacation..." but as quickly as it came it went away with a "yeah, so? Fuck with the groovy thing I've got going for poison? No thanks."

I'm really sad that day after tomorrow I have to go back up northward to home - as I've said before, I have a really great job in a really lousy location - but this vacation has definitely been exactly what I needed. I'm hoping to be able to take some of the tranquility back with me.

I'm also hoping to be able to continue picking away at all the head-stuff I've got about my mother. For now I'll leave you with some bonus content: something I wrote not long after she died.

How to Bury Your Mother: Part One
To bury a mother you first must know that she's dead. This will be a gradual process.
Because you have a strange and troubled relationship you will desire to stay far away from her. Because you are her only blood kin you will have obligation to stay close. Because it is the twenty-first century there will be a solution: email. Though her voice makes your spine hurt and any phone conversation is guaranteed to last at least forty-five minutes, daily -- usually multiple -- emails fill the void. She taught you to read so it is even sort of fitting.
On Friday you will get her usual early morning email. It would be rare indeed for you to initiate the daily exchange. Three emails, actually: two HuffingtonPost forwards and her own composition about the weather, your friends and a local-to-her current event. You will note her inappropriate venom and file it in the growing mental stack labled "why I really must suck it up and go see her during my week off in a couple months." You will be filled with both reassurance and dread knowing you have already investigated hotels and flights. You will take far too much time from your morning to compose a thoughtfully innocuous reply incorporating all three of her messages.
You will notice but not be alarmed by a lack of "The Afternoon Wrap-Up" which is a common but not assured email. Saturday morning will come and go with no message but that won't be a concern either: she always skips Saturday because "you need time with your people." During the afternoon errands you will be exceptionally uncharacteristic and buy a scratch-off lottery card which -- shockingly -- is a forty-dollar winner. You will comment to a family member, "she will say it is because I am such a naturally lucky person and surely bring up a certain story from my past." The comment will turn into a dollar bet. Saturday night you will email her a picture of your winning ticket.
Sunday will be the day you sense oddness. There will be no early morning email as you expected nor will there be any as the day slips along. This will be the subject of much discussion in your household. You will maintain that it is very unlikely for her not to comment on such unexpected news yet remain unwilling to place a phone call which would eat much of the afternoon and leave an evening of emotional pain. One family member will joke that she's run off with someone she met at a Sappho bar and you will reply "I wish." Another will remind you that she's "pulled this disappearing from cyberspace thing before." You will continue to think something is likely wrong yet reflect on how annoyed she would be if you call "what, because you got worried?!" You will buy off your conscience with more email, one of which will ask directly "I'm worried is everything okay?" Sunday evening you will ponder "appropriate concern" versus "respect for her autonomy" to the exclusion of all else. You will announce to your family that "if she hasn't written by tomorrow afternoon I'll call her and if I don't get an answer I'll call the police." You will go to bed Sunday night with an odd nagging sensation.
Monday will be difficult. You will check your email before getting dressed and find only junk. You will go to work pretending all is well and even do some work but pause every ten minutes to check your Inbox. By nine you will give up the pretense of work in favor of worried texting. You will ratchet "if she hasn't written by" back from 1 pm through noon to 11 am. Somewhere along the path from Sunday to Monday you will have reached "if she doesn't email she probably really is dead" but you will spend the hour between nine and ten considering "fallen but can't get up" and googling hip fractures while feeling terribly guilty for having not already called. It won't help. You will discuss via text how angry she will be when the police knock on her door. You will quaff worried with a chaser of inevitable.
At ten-forty-five on Monday you will use the speed-dial button on your office phone to call her. The number for your hometown police station will already be on your computer screen. You will get her answering machine. You will not consider even for a moment that she might be running errands. You will, however, remember that she screens her calls. Therefore you will say, "hi, it's me...I've been worried because I hadn't heard from you so I called to see if you were all right. I'm going to hang up and call right back and if I don't get you the second time I'm going to call the authorities." You will say "authorities" because you know she hates the word "police." You will hang up. You will call back and get a busy signal. For a very few seconds you will think "she's trying to call me back" before remembering that her answering machine is the kind which has to reset itself between calls. You will call a third time and it will ring...and ring...and the machine will pick up again. You will not be ready to accept what you certainly now know.
You will call the police station of her small town. You will, surprisingly, get a recording. You will call a second time before the recording makes enough sense for you to realize you must call "dispatch." You will have to call a third time to actually copy the dispatch number. When you call that number you will get a real human being clearly still in training. You will have an odd three-way conversation with that person and another person in the room to whom she will relay all you say. Eventually you will be told that someone will go to your mother's apartment and call you back.
You will wait.
Shortly before noon your cell phone will ring. After verifying your name and telling you his, the chief of police will say "I'm sorry to have to tell you by phone but I thought it was the fastest way. Your mother is passed away." You will be resigned, not surprised.
Two days later you will read her journal and conclude, among many other things, that she died in the wee small hours of Saturday morning.
Post Scriptum: What I didn't say there but will here is that I found three separate handwritten "buy vodka!" notes: one in the car, one as a hang-tag on her hall closet door and one in the kitchen.  That sort of explains the 6 (yes 6) 1.5 L Gran Legacy bottles I found in her recycling bin in addition to the full one in the fridge the medical examiner had found before I ever arrived.


  1. Hi Sam!
    I am just catching up on blogs today.
    I am sorry your vacation is over, but I am glad it was good.
    I am sorry the death of your mother is bringing up memories, but I am also glad you are writing about them, and not drinking!

  2. Oh SamKD I too am someone who was more relieved than sad over the death of my mother, but mine was based on her being 'manic depressive' as it used to be called. Only in certain company can you tell the truth without judgement and I am chuckling away to myself as I remember my cousins very judgemental wife trying to get the whole family against me because of a comment I had made about my mom. That was until she met my mom who true to form showed my cousins wife just why I was gushing about my mom the way she did about hers. It is hard for people to understand having a really difficult even dysfunctional relationship with your mother. Do you think this birthday was a bit different? It sounds a little bit like you have laid something to rest, also in claiming back sewing. I hope you do keep some of the calm you found this vacation and it can carry you for a few months til your next break. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, it lets me know I am not alone and that others DO understand the turmoil still in my head.