Remembering

This week is a tough one for me.

Part 1:
Wednesday was my mother’s birthday, her first since she passed away. In a way I used to dread her birthday because it meant trying to go see her not on my terms. Visiting my mother wasn’t easy. Nursing homes and 3 year olds are not a good mix. When Nathan was really little, it was ok because he could stay in his carrier or I’d hold him, or we could sit him on my mother’s bed. But once he started moving it was much more difficult.

The drive to see her was an hour each way. If I didn’t time it right, I’d sit in terrible traffic. If Nathan fell asleep, it would screw up his bed time. If he didn’t, I’d endure complaining about the drive. Either way it was not the most pleasant. But I recognized how important it was to go see her, and for her to see Nathan, particularly on her birthday. But it wasn’t my terms. I had to go THAT week, THAT day. And if I didn’t for a good reason (one of us was sick, or she was) then I felt terrible guilt.

Talking on the phone to her was not easy either. Either she couldn’t get the call because her phone wasn’t working or it was on speaker and her busy-body roommate would jump in or eavesdrop (if you can call it that when a phone is on speaker). If I left a message, I never knew if she got it until the next time I talked to her, so enter the feeling of “should I be feeling guilty because she thinks I didn’t call her.”

But this year, I didn’t have the guilt, I didn’t have to plan a visit (which is good, because Nathan and I both have colds I wouldn’t want her to catch and therefore I’d feel guilty). I didn’t have to try to call and listen to her stupid roommate. I didn’t have to try to think of something to get her and then have her tell me that it wasn’t right for whatever reason. I didn’t have to listen to Nathan complain because he didn’t even know. I’m not sure any of this is any consolation since she’s gone. And I miss her.

Part 2:
Today marks 4 years since my grandfather passed away. While he and I were talking in the months before he passed, the few years before that we were not. It’s a very long story why, not worth rehashing here, but suffice to say I regret that time. I would love to say if I had it to do over I’d do it differently, but I know me and I know him and we were both too stubborn to have it any other way until I found out he had cancer. And it’s not lost on me that calling him for the first time in years because I found out he was sick is really cliche and lame. But it’s what happened.

I was pregnant at the time he passed, due in 8 weeks. It was evident he’d never meet his first great-grandson. This saddened me deeply and still does. I think he would love Nathan and get such a kick out of him. I also think that when Nathan was acting up, he’d tell me how fresh he is (he’d be right) and how he is just like I was. And he’d say that in a disapproving way, just like my mother did. Then I would get mad, he wouldn’t know why and we’d be arguing. But I’m not sure avoiding all that is any consolation now that he’s gone. And I miss him.

2 Responses to “Remembering”

  1. Brenda says:

    I’m impressed by your honesty. I hope someday that remembering isn’t so guilt-ridden for you. My regrets are similar – I lost 5 years of knowing my sister. I complained when I saw my dad’s car pull up because I knew my day was rerouted. And coming soon – all the mom regrets on her birthday and deathday. Then woohoo I’m supposed to be happy for Christmas, when I wish that day didn’t exist. So I try to think about the good times I did salvage with Paula over the last 3 years, and the fact that Dad spent his last days in his home with his stuff. The thought that the last words both of them ever said to me were I love you. Sometimes I feel like a kid the family left at a rest stop and I’m angry they are somewhere without me. But all of this brought us closer and I am blessed to see Nathan now and then and know about him – which might not have happened were it not for these shitty events. I’m glad you wrote this and shared it, because it is okay to admit that we take people for granted and hold grudges and are basically human. I hope that every year, your feelings of guilt melt away and you realize how much they loved you. I guess people don’t get angry at other people unless they really care about them. Thanks for sharing these difficult days with me because you are probably the only other person who feels as much pain as I do and you don’t say stupid things like it will get better. I love you, Michelle, and am glad you are a part of my life.

  2. I do believe the only good thing to come out of this (other than one of those “life is too short” lessons) is that you and I have connected on a level that isn’t adult-aunt and child-niece, it’s adults. We share a history that no two other people share, but there’s more to it than that. I’m sure as the years go by I will see things differently. I don’t look forward to the Grandma Days of December, either, I’m sure they are worse for you than for me. I hope you can find peace in all of it too. I love you and I’m happy to have you in my life too.

leave a comment

%d bloggers like this: