I’m trying something different today and sitting this morning with my tea at the dining room table. Usually, I drink it in bed. And I usually don’t write but sit and sip my tea and listen to NPR. I’m not against that. I will do it again.
But I’m working on myself these days, getting myself to a new stable place. There’s been so much change in my life this past year. Maybe if I look at it directly instead of keeping busy, that will help me.
I have spent the last month or so since I rode BRAG (Bike Ride Across Georgia) transforming my home. I hadn’t quite grasped the obvious, that my home was filled with all my mother’s stuff and not mine. In October, I emptied my mother’s house in New York, the one I had grown up in, and brought my mother to live down here in Athens with me. We’d be roomies, and we were good ones. I took all my mother’s furniture and wall hangings and tchotchkes and created a home for us. I was proud that the house didn’t feel like a replica of my mom’s house back in New York but felt like it was ours now. My mother was pleased and kept repeating to people how I had made all her things feel fresh and new.
It was a fresh and new life for my mom and for me too. She wasn’t living in Baldwin where she’d lived since 1956. I wasn’t living with Richard with whom I had lived since 1982
Then my mom got sick and died.
That was over three months ago now, back at the end of March. It was just last June that I proposed the idea of moving to Georgia to my mom. I have felt guilty about my mom dying so soon after we moved in together. I didn’t know six months ago if I’d be taking care of my mom for just a few years or for another ten years. Would my life for the next decade be as a caretaker? How feeble would she get? When she died, I had hardly taken care of her at all.
My friend Suzie’s mom was in a hospital bed in their living room for several years. Linda drove into Atlanta every weekend for years and years to help her mom and dad. Diane can’t think of traveling without thinking about her mother’s care and so she doesn’t travel. How did I get off so easy in terms of care taking?
I realize now that it just is what it is. I didn’t make things happen this way nor did my mom. And I do miss her company. We were closer than we’d ever been. She was here always eager to hear my day’s adventures. We’d talk about the birds and what we read in the Times, which we were having delivered daily.
Now I’m on the other side of that life. My mother and I created a wonderful new home and then she left; pancreatic cancer wasn’t an easy way to do so. She gave me the love and the physical space to start this new life.
Some days are harder. Here I am, just about to turn sixty, and I’m starting fresh. There are tears that come and go. There’s fatigue from the past year. There’s a lot that I have – friends, family, love, things I like to do, causes I care about — but there’s also a lot of grieving that I’m doing, grieving for my mom and for the life with Richard that I’ve left behind.
Mary Chris came down from New York and helped me transform my home into “my place” rather than “my mom and my place” and into a pleasing, peaceful place I like being in. Now the work and adventure of transforming myself continues.