What can I say? My heart hurts right now. A beautiful lady who was a huge part of my life for nearly forty years has died….
She has had Alzheimer’s disease for more than a decade and didn’t even recognize her own sons when they came to see her. I know it was hard on them because my ex-husband (her first-born son) and I have talked about it.
My daughter told me today that she is saddened, too. She thought she “shouldn’t be” because Grandma has been gone from all of us for a long, long time. As I told her, the fact is that we are never prepared to lose a loved one, no matter how imminent the death might be.
She’s gone. How can that be? It isn’t fair, that’s for sure. She was more to me than a mother-in-law; she was my Other Mother. She was my shelter from the storm of my relationship with my own mother. She was everything I wished my mother had been: kind, caring, gentle, loving and approachable. As odd as it might sound, my mother was never approachable…… Yet my Other Mother was always there for me, as I tried to be for her.
Walking in the orange groves, after supper, so many years ago when I was pregnant with my first child, we would talk. My husband worked evenings and my in-laws invited me out to their ranch for supper at least one night a week. So, we talked. We walked along a row of orange trees highlighted by the setting sun and she answered my questions about my pregnancy.
Over and over again, I asked her to tell me about “labor” and what I would be going through. I asked her what things I needed to have on hand before the baby came home from the hospital. And I listened in amazement as she described how I would feel when I saw my baby for the first time.
And she nailed it…
I remember after Steve and I separated that she hoped we would reconcile. She even “set us up” by asking each of us to come out to the ranch and help her on a Saturday afternoon. I hadn’t seen Steve in a while as he was dating someone else and so was I….
It was hard to see her so desperate to fix something that was irretrievably broken, and neither of us could get mad at her for trying so hard. And neither of us was in a place to try to fix it. It was over, but NOT my relationship with my Other Mother.
She continued to be my friend and called me frequently to see how I was doing. After her husband died, she called me and asked me to come by and see her. She had a gift for me: a beautiful, dark red flower vase. She wanted me to have something of hers to remember her by.
As if I needed an object to remind me of her…..
And now she’s gone. Gone to a place where she is whole again and not suffering. We are left with our memories—wonderful memories—of a beautiful woman, a beautiful person. We will talk about her often, sharing stories and remembering her with much love and affection.
And shed some tears, too….