Pam’s Pictorama Post: The last of the Mom posts today, for now anyway.
It is Thursday night and I am back in New Jersey. I worked remotely today and will spend tomorrow preparing for a repast for mom on Saturday – 40-50 people over several hours stopping by to chat and have a nosh. The resident cats are surrounding and circling me endlessly since my arrival last night.
Since my mom died almost three weeks ago I seem to live in a state that is strangely and endlessly anxious. I think it is a constant unconscious feeling that I am forgetting to check on her nagging at the back of my mind. Also a terrible sense of always feeling like I am in the wrong place, a perpetual fish out of water. Being back at the house has eased this slightly, perhaps because I am here with the specific mission of getting ready to receive people on Saturday. Or maybe it is being here and forcing my brain and subconscious to accept that mom is no longer here to be cared for.
Friday and a day of cleaning, shopping and cooking. I thought the house had been deep cleaned right after mom died, but friends showed up today and cleaned some more in preparation for tomorrow. Many hands did make for lighter work and the care of all these women surrounds me in a way that makes me feel like a kid again. In the process of the many cleanings and work that has been done the house is slowly becoming more of a home again, the bed no longer in the kitchen, the roar of the oxygen tank with the cord I was always afraid of tripping over gone.
A certain Pam-ness is starting to exert itself undeniably. Paintings brought up from the basement where they were in exile for some reason. A litany of small repairs are being made. I am having the black front door painted red, just for fun. Circus lights now festoon the back deck. Making it my own was what mom wanted and I believe she approves.
The garden is blooming early this year. Although mom never was able to set foot in it she enjoyed greatly it from the windows and via a series of recordings made for her to celebrate each phase of each season. She’d watch these again and again and share them with friends and family. (Here is a video from last spring that is still up.) Everyone remarks on the beauty of the backyard.
The peonies I gave her several years ago are already bursting as are her roses. Mom was good with roses in an effortless way. Did she just know good spots for them? I never remember her fussing over them especially. My nascent herb garden and tomato plants are slowly gaining traction. A dahlia is shooting up in a planter. Unclear though if I have inherited the green thumb or just having some beginners luck as well as guidance from gifted gardening friends.
Tomorrow some family and a number of her friends will raise a glass to her and nibble on vast piles of fruit salad, cheese sandwiches and cupcakes we purchased and assembled today.
Sunday. Well, it rained hard all day. I said it was because mom was looking on and was worried about the cats getting out with people coming and going. Kim showed up early and was introduced to Hobo who received his third meal of the day from him. That cat must have a hollow leg.
The plant people were all pleased about the rain as we haven’t had much and being plant people we walked out in the garden despite the rain. The animal folks were in a group talking about the rescue of a fawn that was unfolding and some left to go help with that. (Mom’s obit with information about her work in animal rescue and welfare can be found here.)
Family, caregivers and one of our neighbors all discovered people in common and mingled and marveled over the few degrees of separation that were unfolding as I guess they do in smallish towns. Like a wedding I don’t spend enough time with any one person while trying to get to all.
I woke up, exhausted this morning, back here in Manhattan, with Kim and cats. (It is Kim’s birthday – shout out to him! We sang a sloppy Happy Birthday over cupcakes to him at the end of the party yesterday.)
The eggshell this layer of protection I felt during mom’s last months has been broken and my time in that liminal space has ended. It’s a hard finding myself back out in the world again with new responsibilities as well as the old ones rushing back in. It is lonely without her, but she left me with new friends and renewed connections. I am so grateful for their ongoing ministrations. The page turns and the next chapter starts now.