As those of you who have been followers of L&P for any length of time will perhaps remember, I would occasionally reference my elderly mother who I have supported in various ways, including, quite pertinently to this blog, the provision of vast amounts of reading material; she was a book-a-dayer these past eight years, ever since my father’s death in 2006.
A week ago Sunday morning, June 15th, she called me as usual in the morning; we had a pleasantly normal chat, and I told her that I would be in to see her in a day or two, to drop off yet more books. Later that day, mid-afternoon, my sister called me to tearfully inform me that the nurse at the seniors’ residence had just called her: Mom had quietly passed away during her afternoon nap.
Though Mom was physically extremely frail – hence her residence in a complex care facility these past ten months – her death was absolutely unexpected.
And I find myself quite bereft.
It was not at all a tragedy in any real sense of the word; Mom’s ending was the classic “best way to go”, as everyone tells us, and as we tell each other and ourselves. She was 89; she had had some serious health issues, and a few close calls. Several surgeries. A bad fall last summer, which put her in hospital for months. Several bouts of pneumonia. She had just been put on full-time oxygen.
So, everyone, call your mother, if you’re lucky enough to have one in your life. Go see her, if you can. Take her some flowers, or take her out to lunch, or just sit and have a chat. If it feels right and the timing works, tell her you love her. Yes, she already knows that. But do it anyway.
Those of you who have also lost your parents, perhaps you will agree that this is such a surreal feeling. This is it. We’re all alone. Orphans, in fact. My goodness. Rather sobering.
Life does indeed go on. The grass grows and needs mowing; the garden needs watering and weeding; the flowers I picked for Mom’s funeral are drooping and are almost ready to be thrown out onto the compost pile. The books I had ready to go in to town for her are still sitting on the kitchen counter; the books I collected from her room along with her other personal belongings are needing to be sorted out and put away. The floor needs sweeping, meals must be made; the food from caring friends is mostly gone. And I am very much able to laugh at jokes, to smile, to be happy much of the time, despite the tremendous sorrow that shadows my days right now.
And books are still good. I know that they brought Mom endless and reliable amusement and interest and comfort; I read right now with a nod to her shade. Nothing too challenging: from the stack I had ready for Mom, Elizabeth Goudge’s The Castle on the Hill, Norah Lofts’ Lovers All Untrue. An E.B. White essay collection, and tonight I think perhaps something from the Margery Sharp shelf.
Back to writing now as well. I have a review to formulate for Shiny New Books; I have things to say about recently read novels; I have loads of catch-up to do on my favourite book bloggers’ sites; I’ve neglected those particular email notifications this past week.
Thanks for listening, everyone. Now, go call your mom!