Monday, September 5, 2011

Speaking Words of Wisdom

Me - not so much. The Beatles - a lot. Although love may not be all we need and happiness may not always be a warm gun, Let It Be is both a beautiful song and useful, time-tested mantra. It's also no surprise that this song always reminds me of my mother, Mary, who passed away five years ago today.

I've been thinking about my mom a lot lately. My close friend Melissa lost a parent to cancer recently, which brought up some feelings and questions as to whether it's better for death to come suddenly - as it did with my mother - or slowly as it did with hers. I imagine initially it is better to know, to be able to say the things you want to say - I love you, I'm sorry, thank you, whatever - but after that, as death grows closer and more painful, I imagine a quick end would be best for everyone.

In my case, I received a phone call at four in the morning from my sister Rebecca who lived a few miles from our mother in India. A call from my sister at this hour was not that uncommon. Even though the time difference is a nice, round, twelve hours, she still managed to call at all sorts of ungodly times to report nothing in particular.

"I can never remember if I should add or subtract," she'd say, lounging about in the mid-day sun.
"How about neither?" I'd remind her, explaining the simple system for the umpteenth time.

Much like in the past, I was annoyed when I answered the phone. This time Rebecca skipped the pleasantries and apologies. She was crying and having a difficult time speaking. Finally, she managed to get out, "I think Mom's dead."
That annoyed me more and I replied, "You think Mom's dead. You can't do that. You can't call me up and say you think Mom's dead. Find out for sure and call me back." Who does that? Who calls at four in the morning with a guess, a phone call from my Mom's driver alerted Rebecca that my mom might not be breathing and that's when Rebecca called me with the possible news.

I sat by the phone for several minutes, trying not to think about anything at all. I'm sure I failed, and when the phone rang again, my sister gave me the definitive news. I called my brother immediately, then went into my bedroom to tell Carrie. For several minutes I tried to wake her up, but each time I reached out to touch her, I imagined saying the words, "My mom is dead," and I started crying. Finally, she woke up on her own, and finally I managed to actually say the words. The tears continued for quite some time.

Another reason I've been thinking about my mom is Amari. I see my mother in her - not physically, but in her being. She is sweet and kind and loving. I also know that the intuitive side of my parenting comes from the way my mother raised me. She was fair even when life wasn't, and she was loving when we needed it the most. I wish she could have met Carrie and Amari, and I wish she could have seen me become a man through the experience of being a husband and a father. I know she always had the faith in me that I lacked in myself.

I love you, Mom. And thank you.

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