The first anniversary of my mother’s death

I realized that, while my mother’s death naturally made me very sad, and especially that “adult orphan” thing weirded me out, there were some things that mitigated the pain somewhat.

To recap: my “baby” sister called me at work on Friday, January 28 to tell me our mother, Gertrude Elizabeth (Trudy) Green, had gone to the ER with a severe headache. It was latter determined that she had had a “brain bleed”; I don’t think I understood that terminology until I got down to the hospital. What Mom had was a stroke; there are two kinds, one which constricts the blood, and the other, less common, but more problematic, where there’s too much blood.

I figured that I needed to go down by train because flying was too expensive. I remember getting a “sick or bereavement rate” when I flew down to Charlotte, NC before my father died, but it was hardly helpful. Since I didn’t know when I’d return, taking the train to Charlotte seemed to be the best plan.

I was initially planning on leaving on Tuesday, but when I saw the forecast for a massive snowstorm, which did arrive, I knew I needed to leave on Monday. I called work on Monday morning from the train station to tell them I wouldn’t be in for several days.

Tuesday, my sisters and I spent the day in the hospital, and my sisters tell me that she was doing much better, giving a couple one-word answers.

Wednesday morning, she had a Cheyne-Stokes breathing episode that sounded terribly distressing, but apparently was not, at least for her. I talked with my doctor about this last month when I was feeling unwell. She notes that hospice nurses are good at bring comfort to the family, but that sometimes, hospital nurses forget that, when death is near, they still need to try to make the family feel OK. My doc theorized that perhaps they gave my mom a bit of morphine to control the sounds, for my benefit.

I was there when Mom died shortly before 9 a.m. I was told to call my sisters before I was told that fact; very odd. When my sisters arrived, they thought she was only sleeping before I had a chance to tell them otherwise.

I was having this electronic conversation with my blogger buddy Arthur recently about the euphemisms for death. He doesn’t much like them, and I’m inclined to agree. But, in my mom’s case, I understand why they say that someone “passed away.”

It so happened that I wrote a blog item that posted on Wednesday, though I had written it on Saturday, Take the Train to Charlotte. All the posts prior to 2:05 pm EST indicated hope for my mom’s recovery. But somewhere around 2:12, I started getting condolences. Denise, the ABC Wednesday diva, had IMed me at some point after we got home from the hospital around noon, to ask how my mom was doing, so of course I told her. The outpouring of support I got from people I had never met was astonishing. Jaquandor and Arthur both wrote posts about my mom and me.

I was intrigued by one comment to a brief post I wrote the day after she died, describing my account as “dispassionate”. I suppose that was true; it was a coping mechanism.

So it was tough, but it was made palatable by folks from work and church, and by friends I’ve known in person, but also from a whole lot of people I have never met. My friends Jason and DeeDee placed a small obit in my mom’s hometown paper in Binghamton, NY, which was the first time some of her friends and relatives heard about her death. I read the comments from various posts I wrote during the month, and they make me (past and present tense) both weepy, but at the same time, comforted. The aforementioned Denise sent flowers to our house; amazing how well flowers from England held up.

Oh, some mundane stuff: got $561 from my mother’s Social Security in December, as did my sisters; not quite clear exactly why. That’ll help with paying off some of the debt I incurred for the funeral and Charlotte newspaper obit.

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12 thoughts on “The first anniversary of my mother’s death

  1. My condolences on a somber anniversary. I think we always feel that our progenitors will always be with us, but fond memory doesn’t quite make up for their absence. Sixteen years on, there are still times when I miss my father terribly, and I suspect that will always be the case.

  2. I remember so well the point you’re at now, Roger, and I can offer confirmation that what “they” say is really true: The first year is the hardest; it will get easier from here.

    Bloggers have the opportunity to share memories and stories that would otherwise be lost. So I’m glad to see you’re still sharing about your mother, and I’m sure you’ll continue to do so. That’s good—for everyone, really.

    And, in this case, I think “passed away” is the perfect term. Kia kaha, my friend.

  3. Having lost my mom a little over a year and my dad a few months ago, I understand very well how hard this must be for you. Not a week goes by that I don’t think about calling or visiting them. Mine were local, both had strokes and lingered. What this meant for me was that I spent the last 2 years immersed in their lives – my mom more so than my dad. Though it was a relatively short chunk of my life, it feels like it was forever. I miss them terribly. At the time of their passings, I was unable to take in the wonderful outpouring of support. I almost didn’t notice it, though I know it got me through the difficult times. Your post has inspired me to write what I am thinking and feeling at this time while trying to get my own life back on track.

  4. I totally empathize with you. My mother died in 2004, after dealing since 1998 with the first of several strokes. It was a long painful process for her, for six years, unable to speak, but having total clarity. Unable to walk, etc.

    The first year is awful, the worst, but still, after seven years, at times I reflect back with tears.

    The void will always be there, but the pain does lessen at times.

    My condolences.

  5. I lost my mom 11 months ago; it’s a tough anniversary to contemplate. Just when I think I’m “over it” something happens to remind me that I’m not. Last night it was happening to pass by the department at Macy’s where I used to shop for her clothes. Who knew that Alfred Dunner sportswear could bring a tear to my eye?

    My condolences for the loss of your mom, and your dad. They live on in your memories.

  6. Hey Roger, so sorry about Mom’s passing a year ago. It’s so hard to lose a parent, and we feel so odd that they aren’t there caring for us instead of the other way around, feels strange. But…I’m looking at these pictures and it’s a mind tease to see the younger picture of your mom, she is so vibrant and I remember her face so clearly! Anddddd it’s amazing how you all look so much like her. You all are her legacy..and that is comforting, cause you are all doing such a great job! Thanks for sharing your experience with us….Love to you and you family.

  7. a loss is a loss, you will miss her . My mum died 24 years ago, I could never forget the phone call, when my Dad rang from Australia and said, Mum’s no more.

  8. So, I’m sitting in Bob Evans yesterday catching up on posts and email and things on my phone and I get to this one and suddenly I’m trying not to burst out crying in public. Damn smart phone.

    I’m almost through year two as an adult orphan, and I can tell you that the second year is a little easier than the first one. I still want to call her a lot, though.

    The worst part for me is that I get so much of my personality traits/quirks from her–from my sense of humor to my sense of outrage to my temper. Practically every day, I catch myself doing something that reminds me of her.

    I’m thinking about you.

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