Sunday, May 12, 2013

The passage of one year: When did I last 'see' my mother?

Today is Mother's Day, tomorrow would have been my mom's 82nd birthday, and Tuesday is the first anniversary of Mom's death. For the last few weeks I have been thinking about the last time I actually saw my mom in the fullness of her being, the last time she was unmistakably and fully there. Tracing my way back through time, I began to wonder when was it that I last truly 'saw' my mother?

When a family member doesn't have an apparent illness, and death doesn't appear imminent, we just live our days. We take things forgranted and don't say goodbye after visits, but say 'see you next time'. We don't think about loss, believing there will always be more visits and conversations, more shopping trips and more everyday tasks.

The last time I hugged our mother goodbye as we left her home, I didn't think we would never again see her standing in the front doorway of the house, making us laugh, as she waved and chanted farewell in Italian. 'Arrivederci, arrivederci!', she called out, as she always did to us, an Irish woman using the farewell word of Italy, the country in which she enjoyed one of her most memorable holidays. Sometimes she would make a short hand of it and say, 'rive, rive', but the sentiment was always the same, 'farewell, until we meet again'.

My mom's illness and passing took place over a very short period of time. Mom had been hospitalized a few times over the course of her senior years, but she always recovered and came back better than ever. This time it was different. Mom was admitted to hospital on Thursday, and with all of us around her, on Monday evening she died, the day after she had celebrated both her 81st birthday and Mother's Day.

When did I last truly see my mom?

Was it the last time Mom was wrapped in Dad's arms and the two of them danced together?
Was it the last time I had an argument with her, or the last time we completely agreed on something?
Was it when she turned her face up to the harvest moon, and seemed to be dreaming of another time and place?
Was it when she laughed out loud at the birthday party of a friend, or quietly dabbed tears of pride at a graduation?

When did I last truly see my mom?

Was it on the afternoon of the day before she died? In her hospital bed Mom closed her eyes, and with the buds of my iPod in her ears, she listened to Andre Rieu, her favourite violinist, as he played Les Patineurs, one of her favourite pieces of music. She rocked back and forth in the hospital bed, sweeping an invisible conductor's baton through the air, bringing the orchestra in her imagination to crescendo.

On that Sunday, we thought Mom was on her way back to us, but with each one of those musical trills she was moving closer to heaven.

Arrivederci Mamma! You are very much missed.
Bella Mamma, out and about on a day in Rome.


Copyright©irisheyesjennifer2013.

7 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Thanks so much for your comment Colleen. I hope you had a happy Mother's Day!

      Cheers,
      Jennifer

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  2. Jenn, I can say no more than Colleen has said, this is a beautiful tribute to your mom. Hugs to you in these difficult days.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks so much for your comment Charlotte. I hope you had a happy Mother's Day! Thanks for the hugs.

      Cheers,
      Jennifer

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  3. I doubt your Mum would have wanted a last goodbye, she seems like a lady who lived for her family and one who loved life. What a lovely memory of your Mum listening to Andre Rieu... a beautiful tribute.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks so much for your comments Crissouli. As always, they are much appreciated

      Cheers,
      Jennifer

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  4. A lovely remembrance of your Mum, and also wisdom for all of us...we do take for granted that our family will always be there and become somewhat lax about really "seeing" them. Love the vision of her calling out "Rive, rive".

    ReplyDelete

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