Another emotional Mixmaster of a day. (On one hand as I blog I think, "Oh, good grief, how much of this stuff are you going to subject people to?" On the other hand, I'm hoping that for people who have not yet gone through the death of a parent, my own gut spillage might be a way to let you know, ahead of time, that you're going to have all these experiences and reactions and feelings, and that it's okay; that you will be treading down a road that others among us have already trod.)
I found myself throwing away more things today: A really hideous secondhand coffee table, a relic of my father's enthusiasm for recycled furniture, that's turned into a catchall for catalogs; a mudroom coatrack literally held together with duct tape up at the top; an ugly old kitchen chair next to the coatrack whose only practical function, other than serving as auxiliary coatrack, is to give you a place to sit down to put on or take off boots in the wintertime. I found myself wanting to move things -- move around the living room furniture. I am seriously considering moving into my mother's bedroom, because it's bigger and lighter than mine, and turning my bedroom into some sort of multipurpose office/exercycle space, or throwing away the decrepit 70's era furniture (which I have been planning to do anyway) and adding a daybed or futon or something. I found myself wanting to put more houseplants around the place; my mother (possibly concerned about the indoor horticultural detritus that a friend of mine calls "plant poop") disliked the idea of more than one plant per room, and in fact kept the plants limited to a Norfolk Island pine in the dining room and a philodendron in the living room. I went into the Cheap Crap of Dubious Origin store today for some practical purchase and left with a pretty celery green soap dish and lotion dispenser for the bathroom, which I have decided is going to be green and lavender. I saw myself, some summer weekend, stripping the horribly degraded bathroom sink cabinet and restaining it so it doesn't make me want to throw up whenever I look at it. (All advice on this proposed project cheerfully accepted, because my home-repair skills are more like Red Green's than Martha Stewart's.)
As I'm idly thinking these things, or hauling stuff out to the garage, part of me is saying, "Good for you. You're moving forward. You're taking responsibility. Mom would be proud," while another part is saying, "Your poor mother isn't even in the ground yet, and this is what you're thinking about? Can you even wait until the interment to tear up her house and take over her room?" And part of me is saying, "Why didn't you do all these things while she was alive? Maybe she would have appreciated it." And yet another voice is saying, "Why did you leave me with all this stuff to do? Why, Mom and Dad? Why did you treat this place like a disposable house? Now I'm stuck with it, and it's falling apart, and I don't know how to fix it, and I don't even know if I want to live here anymore." All of these things are simultaneously roiling around in my head.
I had to pick up Mom's funeral flowers today; our local florist doesn't deliver out to our church. (One of the pitfalls of commuter churchgoing.) That was hard; I cried when I came home and set up the tripod.
The funeral director had mentioned something about putting up an easel with a kind of memorial montage of photographs of my mother. I've been pondering this since Monday, and it would be interesting for our church people, who've only ever known Mom as an elderly woman...but the thought of being creative is overwhelming me: For God's sake, now they want me to do a craft project? I might play with this tonight, but I don't think I can do it. Or if I do it'll look like crap.
My pushy aunt called to ask if my cousins should send flowers or money to our church building fund. I told her that either would be fine. "But which one do you think your mother would prefer?" she pressed, with a note of impatience in her voice. I wanted desperately to say, "Dammit, woman, I just told you; flip a fucking coin." (On Monday morning, when I called to break the bad news to her, she proceeded to relate to me, as I was weeping and sniffing into the phone, all her own health problems. Hello! My mother just died!) I realize that in large families relatives like this come in multiples, so I should be glad I just have one to contend with, but...sheesh. And I'm sure that she and her posse will be taking notes on how fucked-up they think the memorial service is, especially since my mother left their congregation and church body to start going to church with me. (I'm keeping a buffer of church friends around me for the duration of this ordeal.)
I dropped off my other aunt's outfit at the nursing home. She'd just come out of the bath; they were lifting her onto her bed. "See?" she said. "I told you she'd bring me my clothes." God, I thought, now I'm not moving fast enough for the nursing home staff? I didn't arrive according to their preferred timetable? Hey, everybody, is there anything else I'm doing wrong? Someone keeping score?
As you can possibly tell, I am just about ready to go full fetal under my desk right now. But I keep telling myself that by this time tomorrow this stuff is going to be all over.