I lost my mother yesterday. She’d recently been discharged from the hospital, where she’d stayed for about 10 days. Presumably she was medically stable, although we knew she was in general decline. Then suddenly sometime early Saturday, she died.
This was my mother in ancient days, holding my butterball sister as I snuggled up to her hip, wearing something chiffon that had been cloned from an accordion:
Yes, I was blond. (Shut up.)
I drove up on Memorial Day Weekend. I spent many hours with her, just holding her hand, showing her goofy things on my iPhone and telling her I loved her. It was the only time I’d been able to spend with her alone since my sister was born. (That chubby little thing that grew up to be a leggy model.)
I loved her so much. She was a very complicated person, I came to learn, with a strange and harrowing history stretching back to the 1920s.
I guess what matters most, though, is what she was to me. Those who follow my writing are already familiar with her highly unconventional religious life. That was just the beginning. Blend in generous helpings of Project Blue Book and In Search Of… with Conspiracy Theories 101, and the aroma of synchretism might choke you. Thick billowing clouds of mystery blinded us between Sabbath and the nightly news.
I drew inspiration from the Neptunian fog. I needed it. I was a spooky child and the world was a scary place. I sometimes wondered how much of the UFO-chasing was because of me. Because she loved me and wanted to understand the odd, sensitive child she’d given birth to so late in life.
Born on a Comanche reservation in Oklahoma, she had barely any education and virtually no intellectual curiosity. Yet, she recognized that I needed a lot more stimulation. A simple store clerk, she sacrificed to give me musical instruments, piano lessons, art supplies, books, puzzles, encyclopedias, and much more. She didn’t let me skip a grade as the LAUSD had recommended when I hit 3rd grade. She wanted me to stay in my Blue Bird troop with my friends. Although she hadn’t many friends herself, she recognized that I needed them and that I’d always keep my mind occupied when school failed me.
There were times when she saved me from dangerous situations. And times when she thoroughly crushed my heart. I once could not speak to her for a handful of years.
She was not perfect. She had moral failings and sometimes demonstrated poor judgment.
She sacrificed the last 20 years of her life to my sister, the leggy model who was in a horrible car accident at 17 years old and suffered a traumatic brain injury. She and my father devoted their lives to being her caregivers. I often didn’t agree with their decisions. I think she hung on through two bouts of breast cancer and numerous health problems for the sake of my sister.
Although the anti-Christ litany made me crazy, I kind of feel sad that she didn’t see either the return of Jesus or the rise of the anti-Christ. I feel sad that she died without the cadence of some annoying televangelist’s voice shouting hallelujah in her ears. It would have given her so much joy.
Maybe she’s faded away to nonexistence or sits in some catholic purgatory. But personally I hope she’s already woken up in the arms of loving parents. A couple overjoyed to have a newborn baby they thought would never come in their 40s…
The way she felt about me.