Thursday, November 10, 2005

A November Remembered

Yesterday was the tenth anniversary of my mother's death.

A decade ago, I drove through the snow, to the hospital in Chardon, with my oldest son, Ben, after receiving a phone call from my sister that Mom was in intensive care... possible stroke... no need to rush.
We arrived, just as the doctors put the paddles away, and gave up on the attempts to revive her.

Behind the steering wheel that evening, heading home to Cleveland Heights, my tears were angry.
How dare she die? We still had issues to resolve. I needed to know things.
I was afraid she was still disappointed. I wanted to talk about the hurt feelings, the guilt, the rejection, the forgiveness, the love , the understanding, the new relationship that was finally evolving. We had not finished healing the hurts accumulated during my rebellious twenties and stubborn thirties.
Now, those conversations would never take place.

Mom had spent years ignoring her doctor's advice. She refused to spend money on the medication he perscribed to treat her high blood pressure because she "felt fine". An undiagnosed pulmonary aneurysm developed, and finally burst, that Friday afternoon.

The relationships we have with our parents are the most profound of any we develop in our lives. When I was a teenager, I couldn't imagine two people more different than my mother and me. As I've gotten older, I've begun to notice at least a few similarities. The altruism, forever champion of the underdog, the over-analyzation of situations, people, and motives, the accidental green thumb, the interest in philosophy and theology, the ability to recognize potential, and our chosen careers in education. Both of us became Cleveland teachers.
She taught kindergarten at Harvey Rice Elementary School. Being a different temperment, I chose to teach high school.

As much as I emulated my mother, I was also very cognizant of her not-so-admirable traits, which I strove to reject:
The passive/aggressive martyrdom, the use of the "silent treatment" as punishment, and holding on to perceived hurts and sleights.

Yesterday, I stopped at Lakeveiw cemetery on my way home from work. The gray sky and the lonely sound of an unusually warm November wind, moved me to park my car and wander among the headstones.

My mother is not buried there. Her grave is in Shadyside; a small, country cemetery in Auburn township. My father, disconcertingly, had my name and those of my siblings engraved on the back of her tombstone.

Ambling along the paths, I recognized the names of famous historic Clevelanders, surrounded by the markers of the long forgotten.

There is nothing like a symbolic reminder of death to help one recall the essence of life. The memory of my mother and the anniversary of her sudden death, already a decade past, is a welcome prod to push myself, and make the most of the time I have to live.


estarz said...

Mary Beth,

Death is hard to fathom even at any given time. Tho you never had the opportunity for closure..I am sure she is watching over you.

Peace always.

Jill said...

Lovely entry, Mary Beth. Thanks for sharing.