I am not one of those people who immediately, upon the death of a loved one, make them into a saint. I remember my departed loved ones quite honestly. I have been doing the same throughout the weekend with my memories of my Mama. We had such a turbulent, conflicted, not always pleasant relationship. But there were other times that we had such a great time together, really enjoyed each other's company. Lots of times we had fun, laughed, acted silly, & just hung out.
In the words of Maya Angelou "We do the best we can & when we know better we do better". That pretty much sums it up. Mama did the best she knew how when I was growing up & when she knew better she did better with me. But it took us years to come to being comfortable as mother & daughter. She was always amazed when she would find out that I didn't know something. Like the fact she thought I was pretty. She never told me that until a few years ago. She "thought" I knew. She also thought I knew,without her telling me, that I was smart, she was proud of me, & that she loved me. Well, guess what, I did not know those things. That is why it is so special to me that I was the last person she spoke to & that those words were "bye bye" "I love you". I think she came back just so I could hear those words, & could know without a doubt that my Mama loved me.
We went almost 20 yrs without really speaking & never seeing each other. I would always call during the Holidays & her birthday. She never called me. Never knew until it was all over how abusive my 2nd marriage was & how I had self-medicated. She always refused to believe I was an alcoholic/addict. She never saw me that way & for my Mama who always wanted everything to be perfect she had to believe it was not that way. She had a vision of me that was impossible for me to live up to, but in these last 10 or so years she had come to appreciate the woman I have evolved into. The belief system I have, the values I cherish, the strength & get it done attitude I have adopted. I heard her tell one of her friends one day "We'll ask Donis, she always knows what to do & she will know how to solve this" High compliment indeed.
I have been known in my family as "Wild Child" for a very long time because I was the adventurous one -the one with the gypsy soul. The one who could just pack up the car & move across the Country on a whim because it sounded like fun or because whereever I was just wasn't working for me. I think that independence both awed & scared my Mama. I think she would have liked to have had the adventures I had, but I think that my having those adventures scared the hell out of her, for me.
But in the end, I came back to Oklahoma. Came home to take care of Mama, but then took care of my brother instead. Now I have honored Mama's final requests, carried out her final wishes. Took care of business just as she knew I would when she gave me the instructions over & over. Knew I would make sure the doctors did not prolong her life artificially. Knew I would voice her wishes & carry them out. Knew I had the strength to do it all. Knew I could do her funeral service. And I did it all. Because Mama knew I would.
Several months ago I said to a friend "I'm here because I will have to take care of Mama at some point. When she is gone there will be nothing to keep me here & I will move on with my life somewhere else. Maybe I will return to Seattle or move to Florida. Who knows." Well, I love my job. I love my house. I have a life here that works for me. So, I am after all, an Oklahoma Girl. And it appears that here is where I will stay. I still have a gypsy soul but my adventures will keep me closer to my roots for now.
I will continue to remember Mama. Tonight I almost called her then remembered that I couldn't. I don't imagine that will be the last time this happens.