Sunday, March 28, 2010

My mom

Although she couldn't eat and was frequently incoherent after she came home from the hospital 10 days ago, my mother often asked for a tiny cup of coffee. Overjoyed that she actually wanted something, we made the coffee, even knowing she wouldn't drink it. She'd clutch the hand-made mug (she was a potter) in her bony, jaundiced fingers and attempt to bring it to her lips, usually hitting somewhere in the middle of her chin. Then she would just lie there, fingers laced around the warm cup, eyes shut. I worried she would fall asleep, spill the hot coffee and burn herself. I would try to extract the mug from her hands. The other day when I thought she was dozing, she said, "I'm going to do this for 45 minutes just to drive you crazy."

I would say she was as funny as ever in her final days, except it's not precisely true: She was funnier.

On Tuesday, she again requested coffee. Then she mumbled, "newspaper." I brought in the day's Wall Street Journal (she was an obsessive WSJ reader) and propped it up on her tented legs. She tried to put on her owlish red glasses, but had lost the ability, so I did it for her. For 20 minutes she sat there absolutely still, clutching the coffee, newspaper propped up, sunken eyes closed. It was pitiful, but it was valiant, and it's the last image of my beautiful, exuberant mother that I will remember with any pleasure. After that, all I saw was the cancer.

She died early Friday morning, my aunt and sister holding her hands. She was ready to die -- she'd said it many times -- and I am glad for her that she is free.

I am not glad for myself. I used to call her every day, often more than once. I keep having the urge to pick up the phone, an urge I think is only going to get stronger as everyday life starts up again. Talking to my mother was my everyday life.

39 comments:

  1. I'm so sorry for your loss. That sounds like such a painful last few days for everyone, and I hope that she is resting in peace.

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  2. Condolences to you and your family. Losing a beloved parent is like no other experience. May her great legacy shine strong through you and comfort you.

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  3. Your post is such a lovely tribute to the strong woman your mother must have been, it really made me cry. I am so very sorry for your loss and wish you all the strength and support you need to get through this hard time.

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  4. so sorry to hear of your loss. I know you will think of her often in the coming days. Worse still is the day far in the future when you realize its been days since you had the urge to call her.

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  5. My condolences on your loss. I am glad her suffering has ended but I ache for you and the rest of her loved ones for the disappearance of such a vibrant, wonderful presence in your lives.
    The urge to call--it gets less over time. But as a daughter who had daily calls with my mother as well--I still miss them.
    Thinking of you and wishing you comfort.

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  6. I am so sorry. It's such a big hole, and so much pain to have to bear. I wish you strength for the difficult days ahead.

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  7. I am so sorry for your loss.

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  8. I'm so sorry for your loss. Losing a parent feels like losing a link to the past. Wish you strength and comfort during this difficult time.

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  9. That she was a great mom -- it's abundantly clear in your beautiful, terribly sad post. My condolences, Tipsy Baker. Peace and comfort to you.

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  10. I lost my mother many years ago and as I read your post my heart breaks for you. But I can say that time will heal the hole that is left and she will always be in every recipe you make. God speed my dear.

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  11. diane stevens3/28/10, 5:24 PM

    I have been your admiring fan for the last year. I know Justine through Dana (whose mom I am) so I feel I know your family a little. She must have been amazing. My thoughts are with you and Justine.

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  12. What a lucky woman you are, to have had such a wonderful mother. Deepest sympathy.

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  13. A wonderful post to your mother. I'm sorry to read of your loss, yet admire your mother's insistence on coffee and newspaper. What a good humour she carried to final days. She seems someone to admire and look up to.

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  14. I have been in your shoes, right down to the phantom phone calls. In fact, I kept calling her house for months after she died, just to hear her voice on the answering machine. It is so hard. Time is your friend. It will get better. Be glad, if you can, that she lived long enough to know your children. Wishing you strength.

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  15. This brought me to tears. I am so very very sorry for your loss.

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  16. So sorry. I've been following your blog for a while now, and it was very clear how strong (and joyful!) your bond was.

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  17. There is just no getting prepared for losing our mothers, is there? I'm glad she was ready and comfortable, and I wish you comfort also.

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  18. so sorry for your loss

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  19. Thank you for sharing. I am so very sorry to read about your loss. Give your daughter a hug for me, and your son as well. Best, Ida

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  20. I am so sorry for your loss. You family is in my thoughts during this difficult time.

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  21. I am so sorry. What a beautiful post.

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  22. I love those pictures of your Mom, especially the one with you and your sister in matching dresses. I hope my daughters and I have as wonderful a relationship as you and your Mom.

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  23. What wonderful pictures and what a moving tribute to a marvelous woman. I am so very sorry for your loss, but what a legacy. Hang in there, and, yes, press charges!

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  24. I am so sorry you have lost your mom. It was always so wonderful to read your posts and see pictures of her and read your anecdotes. My thoughts will be with you and your family for a long while. I wish you stength at this hard time.

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  25. I am so sorry to hear about your mom. What a gorgeous, ebullient personality. I still miss my mother every day...My thoughts and prayers are with you.

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  26. Tipsy, I am so sorry. I've been putting off reading this post because I knew it would make me sad. I'll be thinking of you all tomorrow during the memorial service. I wish I could be there to celebrate your mother's life and learn more about the person that she was. Please take care of yourself and Justine. xo, D.

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  27. Tipsy, I am so sorry. I've been putting off reading this post because I knew it would make me sad. I'll be thinking of you all tomorrow during the memorial service. I wish I could be there to celebrate your mother's life and learn more about the person that she was. Please take care of yourself and Justine. xo, D.

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  28. Whoops, double post, sorry. I also wanted to add that I loved the detail about your mother not being as funny as ever in her last days, but funnier. Your writing makes even the most painful truths come alive. Not that hearing you're an amazing writer probably means much at a time like this ... but it's true.

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  29. I'm really sorry, Tipsy. She was a special woman-- she always reminded me of my mother in a weird way. Your post is so beautiful and such a tribute to her-- i love the bit about her teasing you with the hot coffee. I hope you got to read some version of this at the service. Much much love to you and Justine. Thinking of you...

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  30. I am so sorry for your loss. I have been reading your blog for a long time, you made us all a part of your family.

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  31. I am very sorry for your loss. I love the final WSJ and red glasses and coffee moment.

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  32. I'm so sorry for your loss. What a touching tribute to your mother. I hope that her strength and sense of humor will live on and get you through these tough times.

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  33. Georgia Jewel3/31/10, 4:32 PM

    I am so sorry for your loss. I had been checking the blog every day, hoping for the best and hoping you were okay.
    The everyday phone call reminds me of when my mom passed away in 2001. I had to stop myself many times from picking up the phone to call her those first few weeks. Even now, I hear her voice when I cook. (She was a cooking instructor.)

    PLease know that you and your family are in my thoughts during this difficult time.

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  34. So sorry for your and your family's loss. What a lovely tribute to your mother! May she rest in peace.

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  35. Thank you for sharing that beautiful glimpse of your mom.

    A bright shining presence, it made me feel how you and Justine will miss her the rest of your lives.

    I'm sure she appreciated all your warm care, especially those last months.

    May she rest in Peace...

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  36. So sorry to hear about your loss.

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  37. Jennifer, sorry to hear about your mom. I love the picture of her standing outside holding her coat. She is lovely.
    Memories can be comforting after a parent is gone.
    Tom and I are thinking of you and your family.
    Anastasia Lynch

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  38. I am terribly sorry for your loss. Your mom sounds like a wonderful woman. My condolences to you and your family.

    Allison

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  39. I lost my mother last August after a nearly year-long bout with cancer. Everything you said here brought back vivid memories of that time.

    I think about my mother every day, but I can tell you that, despite the impossibility of the loss, the feeling does mellow out.

    I offer you the comfort of someone who understands precisely how you feel.

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