sunday sorrow

Watching lives being dismantled, to be re-assembled in new forms, tears my knowing to shreds.  Mom is in the rehab place and BJ, her roommate of 30+ years prepares to leave their home since Mom will not be returning.

To see that house disheveled with evidence of packing and lightening the load rips out the roots I had established there, unknowingly.

The story of this house begins in the 1930s at the purchase of these unimproved, timbered 10 acres by Mom’s family.  It continues to 1981, when Mom and BJ left Arizona to move to these 10 acres and make a home there.   I was a part of that even though I had finished college and was contemplating staying in Tucson for grad school.   Somehow, the power of time had the three of us moving north, although I would be continuing to Alaska.

We drove in caravan:  Mom’s VW camper van, BJ’s truck pulling a small mobile home, and a large rented truck.  I wasn’t particularly present for the trip or maybe I was inexperienced enough in road trips that I didn’t know how stressful the trip was.   Lots of vignettes from that time, especially the getting separated in one strange town.  No cell phones at that time.  The winds that would punish each vehicle and strain each driver’s ability to stay on the road.

The arrival to see a vegetation-blocked entry to the property.  The clearing of space.  The hauling water.  A couple of weeks after arriving with them, I flew to Alaska and found home unexpectedly as I left the plane door and hesitated on the jet stairs.  Looking at those snow-capped mountains and the ocean.  Feeling the 40-degree October weather and wondering how I was going to survive the cold.  But also knowing in my bones that I was home.

Visiting Mom and BJ frequently and seeing, and helping with, the homesteading of those 10 acres.  Hauling stumps out of the ground, chaining them to the truck bumper, and then riding the damn things to the dumping ground.  Going home to Alaska and feeling bemused that my mother was homesteading and I wasn’t — and here I was in Alaska, where it’s expected!

Mom designed the house, by hand, on graph paper.  She considered the sun and shade and the correct angling of the house, and where the gardens should be.  Within 5 years of arriving on that overgrown land, the house was built.  There I visited until this February. I know that house almost as well as any dwelling of mine.  I knew where the cling wrap was and how to find the spare light bulbs.

After I got laid off in February 2010, I was able to visit Mom much more frequently since I wasn’t spent from giving my energies to an employer.  The year of school got in the way a fair bit:  I commuted on awful freeways and was always beaten up and tired.  Once I recovered from that, I got to see Mom almost once a week, for which I am grateful.

Mom will move this week to a new place that is an hour, plus two hideous freeways, north of me.  She will be within a few minutes of my sister and her family so at least she can have visitors.  I need to stay away from germy places until I have an immune system again.

On Sunday, yesterday, Big drove me to Mom’s house so I could say goodbye to BJ.  She and I have shared plenty over many years, including one Arizona mountain camping trip where my 65-lb dog got bitten by a rattlesnake and we had to carry him out of the remote area where we’d been hiking.   My neck still hurts.  Maybe that’s where all the neck problems started, with a semi-conscious dog draped around my neck.  My memory tells me it took us 5 days to get out of there, but that is nonsense; it only felt like 5 days.  Pretty sure it was only one long day.

The house has lost its life:  boxes in the great room ready to be loaded into BJ’s truck for the trek back to Arizona, where she will get a motor home so she can tootle around, birding and otherwise being her naturalist self.  Seeing those hollow places in the bookshelves.

Mom’s things where they were sitting when she was hauled to the hospital by ambulance.  For the last time.  We all had hoped so much that she could live out her life in her home, but it was not to be.

Deciding that since the house was going to be people-less later this week, I should take the valuables.  Oh dear.  Wrapping up Mom’s silver, the silver she and Dad had bought eons ago….  Wrapping a small reclining naked lady sculpture, remembering it back 40 or more years.   Packing the computer was easier, no emotions imbued in those electronics.

Looking around at the house, really trying to see beyond the gloss of familiarity in order to choose the valuables to safe-keep.  I left the china and good glass.

Finally sobbing my heart out at the dismantled lives, at the between time, before the lives are rebuilt into new shapes.  Sobbing for myself, for the loss of a place that has had my roots for 30 years.   I did not have roots until Alaska and I severed those in 1998, the phantom feelings of that amputation rising and pushing to the fore, the memories of dismantling my life well-lived, with adventures and with love.

Now, four bags of Mom’s belongings here in my house that will be re-united with her other belongings when it’s time.  Mom has already made an inventory of the house and her belongings, and has indicated which kid gets what.  That must be killing my sister, the one who hated it when Mom and I would joke about wanting this or that after the other’s death.  We’d phrase it as:  “Put my sticker on that!”  One time, Mom said she wanted her sticker on my Isuzu Trooper!   And now my sister is in charge of all of this.

I remain a bystander, a never-expected circumstance.  I have had to say no to helping with Mom’s huge transition in order to concentrate on one thing only–regaining my health so that I might have a future.  I have chosen and it is not easy.

This morning, Monday, started difficultly:  as I was responding to Calpurrnia’s order for morning tuna, I stepped on something soft.  Figured it was a worn out catnip mousie.  But from the vantage of my height, it looked wrong.  I picked it up, soft and light; it was a hummingbird.  Just a few days ago I was looking out my recuperation room window and saw a pair of hummingbirds darting around the few new yellow trumpet blossoms on the forsythia.  Another pair of lives dismantled and it is stabbing me with the pain of lost possibility and loneliness.




10 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. heretherebespiders
    Apr 30, 2012 @ 15:08:48

    I think we’re all a little speechless…I know I am. I can’t imagine how you’re feeling, having to add one more unbearable pain to the load you are carrying. You’re so strong, though, to do what you can and what you have to do. Wish I could give you a hug for real and take some of that weight off of you.


    • lahgitana
      Apr 30, 2012 @ 15:18:44

      Oh Spiders, you couldn’t have said anything better–you brought tears to my eyes, tears that tell me that I connected with you and you hold my pain for an instant. The connecting is what will get me through. I accept an electronic hug. !! Lordy, I know it’s hard to think of something to say when someone bares their soul, but just knowing I’m not alone carries me along. Thank you for being brave and saying something to me.

      Isobel has talked about her own painful time with her own mother and the support she got through blogging. Me, too, Isobel, me too.

      Tomorrow will be different and I look forward to seeing what it brings. Sleep well, staying-up-too-late girl! –L.


  2. Kathryn McCullough
    Apr 30, 2012 @ 15:51:58

    Wow, can’t even begin to imagine what this must be like for everyone involved. At the same time, the humming bird image at the end here, nearly made me weep. What a powerful and moving post, my friend–no pun intended. Blessings to all of you, dear heart!


    • lahgitana
      Apr 30, 2012 @ 17:24:45

      Thank you, Kathy, for stopping by. This is definitely tough stuff for all concerned. I’m getting through it, or rather, it’s getting through me, so I’ll be out the other side sometime. I accept your hugs with gratitude–I swear, community is how we/I get through life. –L.


  3. Jude
    May 01, 2012 @ 05:29:51

    Really hope your Sunday Sorrow has turned into Tuesday Terrific. Hard to find the right word – and maybe terrific might be a bit much to expect. Hugs :)


    • lahgitana
      May 01, 2012 @ 07:49:20

      Jude–thank you. I feel better today. Actually, my mood lifted throughout the day yesterday: expressing in words all that has been swirling around helped tremendously. Crying was a nice relief too, considering how flat my affect has been for so long.

      And then, there is the support here that buoys me along. :-]


  4. IsobelandCat
    May 01, 2012 @ 09:48:43

    Very hard, and you express the loss and dislocation so well. I was lucky in that when my mother moved to the nursing home last autumn, the place she moved from had no great emotional attachment for me. But the move before that was awful, and, like you, I cried for my mother’s lost independence.


    • lahgitana
      May 01, 2012 @ 10:19:20

      Isobel, I keep your words in mind, since you’ve been through this. I cannot imagine getting through this time without this place–just as you said you received support and solace here. Thanks for chiming in, Isobel.


  5. sweetdaysundertheoaks
    May 02, 2012 @ 04:51:16

    Heartbreaking reading this post. It takes me back to my Mom. She is never out of my mind. I wish with all my heart that this sadness was not yours. Thinking about you. Moms and daughters. A relationship filled with emotions.


    • lahgitana
      May 02, 2012 @ 07:35:32

      Yes, Moms. They are central, powerful figures, which leads me to wonder just how hard it is for the males to try to maintain the patriarchal society.

      Thanks for writing, Oaks. The only way to get through this is by community, and I’m hanging on to that rather firmly.

      I think I’ve read on your blog that your Mom died some time ago? Forgive if I’m remembering incorrectly, Oaks.


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