Monday, January 28, 2013

Now Where Did I Put That Machete?

I feel so muddled. I feel like everything is just absolutely out of control although really, nothing is in the whole scheme of things. It's just...oh hell. I don't know.

I do the most basic of necessary things. Laundry and cooking and bed making. And everything else seems to escape me. I have two palm trees and a camellia to plant. The woman who ran Mother's financial investments is supposed to call me about all of that today. Why in god's name am I executor of this will? I have no knowledge about any of this stuff. My mother's purse is in my kitchen. What do you do with someone's driver's license after she dies? Her Tic-Tacs? I have a dead woman's Tic-Tacs in my kitchen. How can I execute a will when I can't even figure out what to do with her Tic-Tacs? I feel like we will be finding her Kleenex for years to come, randomly scattered in strange places, revealed like ancient Aztec artifacts. I need to put all the pictures that no one else wants in one place so that when I die, someone else will have to deal with them.
Same for the newspaper clippings.
I had forgotten that in the eighth grade I was the Chaplain of the Future Homemakers of America at Dennison Jr. High in Winter Haven, Florida.
Chaplain? Really?
Yes. I was. There is aging photographic evidence of this. Did I lead people in prayer?

Tic-Tacs and insurance cards and the driver's license and social security card and Kleenex and the bundle of papers from my mother's divorce from my father in 1960 and her investments and The Last Will And Testament and pictures and pictures and pictures and an unfinished embroidery project and the jewelry no one wants and her remains in a box in a bag in a drawer. Death Certificates and obituaries and pictures my uncle painted and the hawks are going crazy and yes, the pecans are starting to leaf and the broccoli have all bolted and the garden is knee-high in weeds and it's all out of control, I'm out of control, I lost the bookmark in the library book I am trying to finish reading and so what? I read four pages, forget what I've read, it's not a good book anyway. The back of it promised steaming hot sex and no, it's not that Shades of Gray book. I haven't slipped that far and the sex is not that steaming. I just looked down at my knuckle and realize I knocked it on something, there's a big chunk of it missing. When did this happen and why doesn't it hurt? Big wad of dead, useless skin protruding from it.
I must have just done it when I fed the chickens.

I have the laundry running. I am waiting for the phone to ring. I have taken two backstraps out of the freezer to possibly cook for tonight. The palms and camellia are waiting to be planted and I do not know where to plant them. My mind swirls with stuff and more stuff, memories and stuff, why did my mother do this? What was she thinking? What do I do with her purse?

Some answers are easy. Throw it away. Throw away the Tic-Tacs, of course, and the Kleenex too. Throw them away. When my mother was dying the nurse put a box of hospital Kleenex on the bed beside her hand, not for her, she was done crying or having her life-long sinus problems, but for me because I was her daughter and my mother was dying and maybe I'd need Kleenex and really, I didn't, I was barely crying at all, humming Sister Morphine to myself, wondering how long to wait until I called the nurse in when she'd died, thinking, everything is different now and how, HOW will that go?
I think about how when I was in counseling, my beloved therapist would hand me the box of Kleenex and boy oh boy, I needed it then. The tears just about never ended but when my actual real mother died I didn't need the Kleenex at all, probably because I damn-well grieved the mother I never had for years a long time ago and I keep wondering if they just threw that box away when they cleaned the room. Probably.

It was two weeks ago today that I saw my mother alive for the last time, truly, and talked to her. I keep thinking of that and how horrible it was. How I left and she was saying, "I'm so nauseous," and I think I said, "I love you, I'm sorry, I have to go."

There was a box of Kleenex on the tray over her bed along with the phone, the two cups with their bendy straws pointed towards her face.
Something else, I'm sure. And because of what I am coming to believe was my mother's illness, I can't even really discuss these things with my brothers because she was such a different woman to each of us and the way she was with me was not the way she was with them, it was as if there were four of her, one for each of us and it's impossible for us to have any agreement on who she was and therefore mourning her in any way together is never going to happen and I don't really know how to mourn her or even if I want to and that, that is something I wish I could talk to my brothers about but it's shameful and they wouldn't understand anyway. And even if they did, do, they probably won't admit it. And it's impossible for me to know the way they feel, perhaps so sad that their mother is gone.

I wish they'd come get her Tic-Tacs, her purse, her Kleenex, her ashes, the pictures, the boxes, the Last Will and Testament, the divorce papers. I am sure that each of us feels as if we know, we alone know, the true Mother. I keep thinking of the blind men and the elephant.
I keep feeling like I got the hind quarters.
And I want to know what the eyelashes felt like.

Or maybe not. Maybe I just don't care.

On my good days, I don't care in a good way. I release it all and it is wonderful.
On the not-so-good days, I mostly just want not to care and feel as if I need a machete to hack my way through the simple task of living.

This is one of those. So far, at least.

I need a walk.


  1. Maybe put all of the stuff in a box and label it. I did that with a lot of my mother's things. And they are there for the duration--where they go after I die is unknown. I just hope they don't end up in a Cracker Barrel. I hate all those sad artifacts of someone's life on the walls.

  2. I can feel your pain through your words and I send you the biggest hug today.
    Mourning is a process and everyone does it differently, especially the children of The Mother. Take your time with things, if you don't feel like dealing with stuff, shove it in the corner until you DO feel like it.
    Be gentle with your tender heart. Go walk.

  3. Ms. Moon, it has been 16 months since my mom died and I have not gone through any of her things. Why? I don't know how. All the legal stuff has obviously done but all her clothes and stuff in her purse and night stand are still as she left them. Wait, I lied. Last week I went through her bathroom cabinets and threw out her make-up. Doing it just made me feel sad.

    There is no right or wrong with grief. "It is what it is." Keep reminding yourself that. I hope your walk restores you. xo

  4. How can I execute a will when I can't even figure out what to do with her Tic-Tacs?

    God. I laughed out loud. We are just alike.

  5. you know, i am terrified of what i will do when my mom goes and we have to go to her house in another country and pack up all her things. i really get what you're wrestling with here. a day a breath a moment at a time.

  6. I'm thinking about when my mother was beginning to suffer from dementia and we didn't know it and she was still stubbornly insisting she could and would continue to live alone in the beach house with stairs she could not navigate without assistance and her closest child, me, lived at best an hour and 15 minutes away, when she would call and demand that I come and take her to her doctors appt or the store, when she would call the EMTs when she was bored and wanted someone to fuss over her (because god knows I wouldn't do it), when she would pester the neighbors for food when she had food but 'didn't like any of it' and they would call me to berate me, when she would rudely tell me she didn't like to be touched whenever I tried to assist her, when I reported her behavior to my siblings my sister believed me but my brother who lived 2000 miles away was sure I was exaggerating. Until I finally threatened to put her in a nursing home and she decided she would rather go live with my brother who after 6 weeks put her in a family home because she really did need 24 hour care, then he finally understood. How much of her behavior those five years or so between my fathers death and her being put in the home was the dementia is hard to say. She seemed in full control of her senses to me. I wept for the mother I would never have when she died.

  7. I'm going to take a feminist slant here and cry out "Why, why, why, does the woman, the daughter, have to do EVERYTHING?" Why?

    I will follow you with a weed whacker, if you like -- or even help you to clear a path, if I could.

  8. I wonder what it will be like when my dad dies. I've thought about it a lot - especially now that he has about 8 stents in his heart. I wonder if I will cry or feel guilty or what? He is a good man, but a terrible father. I feel, in a way, I have already mourned him. I have mourned our relationship my entire life and it wasn't until a few years ago that I accepted it.
    You did and are doing the best that you can.
    I think we are all right behind you with machetes in one hand and flame-throwers in the other.

  9. Elizabeth took the words from my brain. I'd get machete or weed whip wielding in a heartbeat if i were closer and it could make the going any easier.

    What a task. I hate that you have to take care of it all when she failed to take care of you in such an elemental way.

  10. Maybe you need a goat. Not a machete. Something that will devour--not chop and slice, leaving pieces by the wayside. And burning can be delightful. After my son was born and then given up for adoption, I dug a hole in the backyard and burned all the notes and letters and keepsakes from his father. I also burned a few divorce papers just before I left Divorceville. A symbolic burning, cuz god knows, I'd need a permit or something to burn all that paper. Yeah, I could imagine incantations and martinis around a fire. Oh--and do chickens like Tic-Tacs?

  11. Life is hardest for the child who still lives closest, that's what I think, and of course for the daughters because they know there are tic tacs and tissues to dispose of. This is the hard, hard stuff.

    My mom's the hoarder/compulsive shopper and everything is so valuable to her and I'm overwhelmed from 20 years of fighting it with her. And I'm the kid who moved farthest away. It is super depressing to throw those things out, to be the one who has to make all those decisions.

    Sometimes these things are better done in groups, with siblings or cousins or kids or friends, and maybe wine or alcohol of some kind. Maybe a bonfire too.....

    Hope you don't need the machete for long.

  12. Lord. Emmy is me, I've fought my computer and stupid techno-glitches for hours today and I was logged in wrong. I need a hammer to smash my pc...

  13. You can throw away the Tic-Tacs, I know that for sure. But my mother's driving licence is still in one of my drawers and I do't know what to do with it either. So I'm no help on the rest of it.

    Except, maybe if you want, you can burn that sort of thing and scatter those ashes too.

    Keep the things that make you feel good, not the ones that don't, I guess. But you can also put them in a box and check them every six to twelve months, and get rido f them bit by bit, when they've lost their significance.

  14. Sometimes I feel like I need a machete, too.

    But I do know what my mother's eyelashes felt like. She used to blink her eyes on my cheeks and tell me they were butterfly kisses. I delighted in that. I would love if you would do that with your grandsons!

  15. I'm sorry you were having a bad time when you wrote this (I am late to the party) BUT... the writing is incredible. Seriously this is powerful.

  16. save the tic tacs and one kleenex

    you might regret chucking them at some point in the future

    i still have an empty bottle of synthroid with my moms name on it.

    it's really hard



Tell me, sweeties. Tell me what you think.