Last week my mom just lost another close friend. And I wonder what it is like to be my mom’s age and to have suffered through the loss of most of her childhood friends and those women whom she knew so intimately all during the newlywed/young family/teenagers/empty nest/marriages/grandbabies/widowhood years of her life?
How do you cope with funeral after funeral? Do you lie in bed each night and wonder if tomorrow it will be your time to die? Do you long for sleep to dream about all your loved ones who have been gone these past many years. Do you wake up in the middle of the night and relive the past….the joys and the sorrows?
Even at 62, I often go back to the past when I can’t sleep. I see the neighbors who are now gone, some who had a profound part in my growing up. I see them all in their younger years, gathering for coffee at one another’s house or on the tiny patios or lawns each had. I see Eleanor and Bernice, Joyce and Cel, Millie and Sylvia, Diane and June, my Grandma Tillie and Mrs. Kiehl, Nancy and DeMaris and Mrs. Persh sitting out on her back steps. In my mind’s eye, I see them all, I remember their homes and the scent each one had. I remember being yelled at by some and being given cookies by others.
I remember them all.
Is that what it all boils down to? To be remembered? Does anyone lay in bed and think of me? Will anyone remember me?
I hate with a passion getting older. Not because I have lost my looks or that my body has expanded and that everything hurts. No, it is the future that scares the heck out of me. The inevitable losses that must come. I am not a brave person. I don’t do well with emotional pain….it sits like an elephant on my chest and the ache overwhelms me until I retch with unnerving sounds that crawl up from the deepest parts of my soul and frighten me with their intensity. It is in that pit of despair and hopelessness that I struggle with ending the pain myself. But I have to remind myself that ending my pain will only bring pain to those left behind who care for me; and do I not love them more than myself? If you have ever struggled with the longing to step from this world into the next, you know the fight that goes on inside your brain.
I am not brave.
My mother is brave. She mourns her loss and then goes on with life. She is the poster child for aging right! She looks forward to each new day. To the adventures that day may bring. She does not hide from the pain of life. She LIVES. And LIVES well.
I hide. I close up. I retreat. I am not aging well……
I WILL go gentle into that good night…..
This poem is by Dylan Thomas.
This post is in memory of Bernice Olson who died last week and who was the “Ethel” to my mom’s “Lucy”. Bernice lived next-door to my mom for 47 years. She was my “second mom”. We had keys to her house and she ours. Need something from her cupboard? Go on in and find it. It was normal to come downstairs in the mornings and find Bernice in her robe having coffee with her hair up in pincurls or rollers. She had piercing blue eyes that she highlighted by the use of cake mascara….like clumps of black spider legs were surrounding her eyes. I was always fascinated by those clumps. Bernice seemed to bring me a lot of places with her. She had one son who was like six or so years older than me and who got the biggest kick out of teasing me. He was the love of her life. I don’t think she had the easiest of lives. Her husband died of a sudden heart attack at the age of 62 and then her beloved son died of a heart attack at 54 and if memory serves me, she was there to witness it.
Rest In Peace, dear Bernice, with Larry and Laird….as long as I live, you will be remembered with love……