Nov 29, 2007

I Miss Her Every Day

Today marks the one year anniversary of my mother's death.

I scheduled a day off from work well in advance of this day because I just didn't think I'd be able to cope with the demands of work and knowing how I handled today so far, it was a very good idea.

I had wanted to run one of those memorial ads in the Worcester Telegram & Gazette, but decided that it would make more sense to honor my mother's memory by giving a donation to Autumn Village Nursing Home.

I called and spoke to their activities director Donna a few days ago and she welcomed my gift idea saying she was looking forward to seeing me after all this time. She told me the residents would appreciate the gift and how I'd have to check out the new gift shop that just opened. Apparently a little boy who is the son of one of the CNA workers who had known my mother remarked upon seeing the shop, "Oh, Gloria would have loved this!"

Indeed my mother would have LOVED the gift shop because she was always helping out during the monthly bake sale and the quarterly yard sales. She loved helping sell crafts made by the residents and was always so proud of the money she collected.

She'd buy me these little gifts made by the residents that I truly had no use for, but I never had the heart to tell her I didn't want any of them. For years I went through an enormous amount of effort trying not to hurt my mother's feelings or her good intentions.

She bought me hand-made wooden pins, toilet paper holders, a sign with a pig sitting on a toilet reading the newspaper, a cutting board in the shape of a pig, knitted towel holders and countless other things that she thought I might enjoy. I took every gift home without her ever knowing my true feelings-that these things made me so very sad because it reminded me of the people who made them. These crafts were made with so much love and for the most part were the only things a person in the nursing home was able to give to their loved ones aside from their neediness and heartbreaking stories. I didn't want to look at these things let alone have them around my house.

Walking into Autumn Village this morning hit me hard. I was surprised by the sudden onslaught of emotions just driving into the parking lot. Things had changed since last November. For one thing, the half circle in front of the entrance now had a sign saying, "For Patient Drop Off Only" and there were little neon traffic cones in spaces that I had parked a gazillion times. It brought back memories of the countless times of parking in the front so my mother could shuffle out with her bright red walker and I could help pull her legs into the passenger's seat all the while listening to her gasps of pain as she bended her body into what would slowly become an uncomfortable position for her over time.

As I started walking to the first set of double doors I was flooded with the memories of standing out there in the freezing cold waiting to be buzzed in after a Tuesday or Friday night shopping adventure. My mother would swear up a storm because either the nurses or the aides were too lazy (in her estimation) to come open the locked door. She'd stand there seeing the ashtray just outside of the entrance and wince in displeasure over the smokers and their disgusting habit of course never seeing how ironic it was that she was one of those disgusting smokers for 75% of her life.

This same entryway this morning had two workmen on ladders blocking the entrance doing some sort of improvements. All I could think about was how fascinated my mother was with the little baby monitor video surveillance camera the nursing home had installed during the last few months of her life. We'd stand in the entryway waiting to get let in and my mother would rant about how certain nurses surely had seen us waiting from the nurses station and just to spite her wouldn't come to the door to let us in. She was a woman of many suspicions-especially when she was in the throes of her mania from manic depression.

I walked through the entrance and headed straight for the receptionist window. Standing there was Donna the activities director talking to an older lady that looked very familiar to me, yet I couldn't place her name or face. (After a years time, would I recognize any of these residents when before I was on a first name basis with practically all the first floor staff and residents?) She glanced in my direction and gave me the biggest smile of recognition. Walking towards her felt like walking underwater. Suddenly I found myself being embraced by Donna and I erupted into huge uncontrollable sobs which startled me. (I think I heard her tell the other woman, "Oh, this is Gloria Silva's daughter" and maybe the woman recognized the name...maybe not. But she smiled and I clung on to Donna for dear life.) I remember looking over Donna's shoulder and seeing the newly opened gift shop and I knew without a doubt that I HAD TO LEAVE NOW! I pushed the Christmas card into Donna's hand and said between sobs that I just couldn't stay. Spencer put his arm around me and I walked out of there as fast as I could without looking back once.

As we drove away, I realized with disappointment that I wasn't strong enough to walk through the nursing home to my mother's wing to visit Helen who I had seen was still in her same room facing the parking lot. Helen who had told me that she had found out my mother passed away in the night because she looked up from her bed to see the undertakers rolling my mother's body out of the room and how she cried the whole night long. Helen who had crocheted me the most beautiful baby's blanket when I was pregnant and who promised to teach me to crochet when I was up to coming back for a visit after my mother's death. After my mother died, I had bought this little teddy bear at Cape Code Crafters that was wearing a dress stitched with the name 'Gloria' that I had wanted to bring up last Christmas to Helen, but was never able to bring myself to do. The bear still sits on my dresser in the bedroom and reminds me of what I can't face yet.

I miss my mother every day and think about her all the time. This grief that I carry around inside of me seems to always be percolating just at the surface threatening to spill at the most inappropriate times-standing over a co-worker and realizing her hands look exactly like my moms which speeds me back to the night I sat by my mother's side tenderly stroking her hand while she thrashed about in agony never of course knowing that this was going to be the last night I held her warm hand. Driving home and hearing a Billy Joel song on the radio that reminds me how I played one of her favorite Cd's 'The Piano Man' to try to help calm her during the last hours of her life. I wonder to this day did she hear him sing 'Travelin' Prayer' as she was dying? I'd like to think so.

Hey Lord, take a look around tonight And find where my baby's gonna be
Hey Lord, would ya look out for her tonight 'Cause she is far across the sea
Hey Lord, would ya look out for her tonight
And make sure she's gonna be alright
And things are gonna be alright with me

Hey Lord, would you look out for her tonight
And make sure all her dreams are sweet
Hey Lord, would ya guide her along the roads
And make them softer for her feet
Hey Lord, would ya look out for her tonight
And make sure that she's gonna be alright
Until she's home in here with me

Hey Lord, would you look out for her tonight
If she is sleepin' under the sky
Hey Lord, make sure the ground she's sleepin' on
Is always warm and dry
Hey don't you give her too much rain
But try to keep her away from pain
'Cause my baby hates to cry

Hey Lord, won't you look out for her tonight'
Cause it gets rough along the way
Said Lord, if this song sounds strange
It's just because I don't know how to pray

So won't you give her peace of mind
And if you ever find the time
Won't you tell her I miss her ev'ry day

4 comments:

Michelle said...

That is so touching, Kim. I am crying at work reading it and wishing I could give you a great big hug right now.

Catherama said...

Sending you a big hug. Your mom was lucky to have you and vice versa.

Leo Coleman said...

Your mother knows now what a great daughter she had, but she always knew that I am sure. I never read a more beautiful tribute.

Marty said...

Ditto on sending you a giant hug. Your Mom and Dad loved you so much. They were really blessed by having such a good kid. I'd only have a kid if God could GUARANTEE it would turn out like Kim!!!!!

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