My mother had a wonderful funeral. I’m sure she smiled, and forgave us most of it.
To start at the beginning, mom lost the fight to a virulent breast cancer. We took her to the hospital when we realized we were completely unprepared to care for her at home, the end snuck up so fast. Being mom, she closed her eyes, intending to open them no more. She did open them one time, to sign a check for her entire annual tithe to her church. The same her shyster lawyer stole to close her estate of one old car. My sister and I made good the tithe, and the small church was grateful.
Pat, my cousin in Texas, sent a plant to the hospital. Mom smiled and said “Dallas.” Pat is the daughter of one of our dad’s uncles. Her parents died very young, alcoholics, and my parents tried to adopt Pat. The staunchly Catholic faction united against my fallen from grace father who had the additional audacity to marry a Baptist. They sent Pat to live with an evil cousin in Texas. Pat grew up, married Ellis, and that’s how I have cousins in Texas. The day after mom saw the plant Pat arrived at the airport; mom was the last living relative from those days. We all were sad she was a day late.
Not long after we moved in together, Mom joined her brother’s church, a more fundamental church than I could imagine her being with. But—Uncle Hank’s church had bus tours for seniors, and to be assured of a seat every time, she had to be a member. She joined. Somewhere during her affiliation the old minister retired and the church hired a young woman for an interim minister.
Mom and Stephanie made an immediate connection. After there was a new minister at Uncle Hank's church, Mom would show up unannounced at Stephanie’s new churches; she liked what Stephanie had to say.
On Mom’s initial trips to the hospital, a year before her cancer went viral, Stephanie would pop from an elevator, a tiny bit of a girl. “There you are!” The two of them were off, and I went to the family waiting room. Jan and I teased Stephanie, she was the good daughter, and Stephanie replied “Not if she knew everything.” I knew she was alluding to being a tiny, gay, sprite, and simply replied mother loved her.
So, you know Mom is going to die very soon in my story, and she did. We took her to the hospital on Tuesday, on Wednesday we told her we had a hospice room. Warm blankets at hospice did not entice her, the hospital blankets were just fine. She died on Thursday, but not before she told us “No notice.”
|Mom and Uncle Hank, 1936|
Uncle Hank stood beside her body, held his big sister’s hand and said, “We were on vacation in Florida. She never told us your dad died, you know. She didn't want to bother us.” He waited twenty years to tell us that.
Mom was a planner. A, B, she had an entire alphabet of alternative plans in her repertoire. Leaving on that particular Thursday, the next day being Good Friday and Easter on Sunday was her Plan A, I know. The phone calls went around, people gathered in her hospital room, then at the house. It was a beautiful early spring day, the bees were out. We gave the hospital instructions to send mom to Hennessy’s, her Irish funeral home of choice the many times she had to use one. We went home to join her guests.
I'm only half way into the story; but it's almost finished tomorrow.