8 Years Ago

I’ve been reading Timehop, which is a lovely and fascinating app that gathers your past Facebook posts, Tweets, Instagram, and photos and shares them with you, day by day. It’s a great app for encouraging you to remember things that you might have otherwise forgotten that you thought were significant at the time. In fact, I have 105 hops in a row, which means I’ve been using it all summer.

The past three weeks have been bittersweet as I read about things leading up to my mother’s death. Some of them were so encouraging and some of them were devastating, even in retrospect.

Tomorrow is the 8 year anniversary of the loss of my mother. I still miss her.

Mom loved tulips and the color yellow. She loved entertaining and believed the best about everyone. When we were sick, she would crawl into bed with us and hold us.

I had to give a toast in 2015 and I thought 5 years was probably long enough that I could talk about my mother without crying. This is what I said:

Mother: called her when I was sick, said I didn’t need help. Three hours later I called back—She was already on the way. When I was 5 she was getting dressed for her anniversary. I was being watched in the pool by neighbors, but got into the deep end and was floundering. She jumped over the rail and into the pool in the first new dress she’d had in 7 years.

Student: Mom was in high school when my folks got married. After she finished high school, and wanted to go to college, my dad told her she could—but only if she made good grades, because they would have to pay for someone to take care of us and they didn’t have much money. Mother had been a so-so student in high school, but in college, she was a star. I remember Mom working on a speech for class. She explained the unique quality of her kids. I was delivered by a cat and my brother, the only boy born in three days at St. Edwards in Austin, slept with 76 females at once. My sister was born on the very first election day my mother could vote in. Mom stretched the point to say that an election from that day was passed by one vote.

Healer: She knew about healing in God-given ways. She explained that you could use brown sugar to help heal bed sores—which was proven to be true in a study released in 1979. There was a woman in my college class who was pregnant. I came home and told Mom that she couldn’t fit in the desk and had to sit sideways and that she was wondering if she would make it to the final. Mother said she would not, because she would have had twins. Which is what the professor announced at our final.

Encourager: She had incredible faith that if I said something, it was true (after some early false starts that proved I did know what I was talking about sometimes). She called Grama when I told her something was wrong. Grama had been hit by a car. I told her something was wrong with my college buddy Rex. She said to call and check on him, but I told her he wasn’t home. Turns out he’d been mugged and robbed and, after he was cleaned up at the hospital, his friends took him to a place out of town to recuperate.

Friend: Her sister-in-law stayed her friend for life, even when Aunt Stephanie and Mom’s brother divorced. When I overdrew my checkbook for the first (and second and third) time, she didn’t fuss. She just said she understood and covered the issue. She was an amazing friend. Until she got sick in 2001, we talked on the phone once a week after I got out of college.

History of other things:
My mother was diagnosed as bipolar when she was in her 50s. That’s weird. Most people don’t get bipolar then.

My mother was going crazy in 2006. I wrote a post about how weird she was being.

In 2007 my mother was institutionalized.

My mother was dying of brain cancer for at least four years prior to her death and none of the doctors found it until the day before we took her home to die.