It’s your birthday today. You would be 70. I can’t believe it.
So much has changed since I last felt the need to write to you. I have apparently written sixteen Letters to Mom entries since you died in 2010. They help me, and I have clearly healed some with each year, as I didn’t write to you at all in 2014. 2014 wan’t easy though and I’m writing to you from a different house which I share with my best friend, Pete. My second marriage fell apart and Neil and I went our separate ways. We’re friends, and have found a way to have a new kind of healthy relationship. I am grateful.
There’s not many of our family left now, Mom; grandma is gone, Edith is gone. Kevin is our eldest now and he’s only in his fifties. We are a family of children now. I sometimes think about who will care about what I hold of yours, of dad’s and the other memorabilia of our lives when I die. I have no children. My relationships with my remaining family are pretty good for the most part, but not close. We were all closer once, decades ago when we all still lived near enough to see each other and have Christmas or Thanksgiving in the same house, but that’s a long time ago and each has a new family, new groupings. It’s life. My group, by comparison is pretty small; it’s just me.
I have friends, so don’t worry, and remaining, remote family is still family and we look out for each other from our places around the world. What I have noticed in recent years is how families evolve for people who need people. Pete’s parents invited me to their family Christmas. I was away with them for a few days, and though I initially felt strange, I found myself becoming a little part of a new group. They care about me, I care about them. It’s nice. I’ve been accepted into their family.
There was an old woman in the village named Vera who died last year. We were friends, and I thought of her as both a friend and a grandma figure. We didn’t see each other so much over 2013-2014 due to my own difficulties consuming me, but I treasure the time we had. Just before Vera died, I went to see her and to deliver some balls of yarn meant for her from another elderly village lady.
Vera was frail, in bed, and had some family and visitors around. I waited my turn to see her. She flashed a wonderful smile when she saw me; I sat by her side. She held my hand tight with bony fingers and only let it go when I asked if she’d like to see the wool I’d brought. ‘Oh yes!’ she said. We took out ball after ball and made small talk about the weight and colours. There was a particularly soft – almost feathery – yarn and she pressed it to her cheek. I did the same to my own. A little more chat, then the wool was packed back into its bag for her to take with her to the hospice. We hugged, squeezed hands, and I left her to her ‘real’ family. That was the last time I saw her; she died days later. I miss her, Mom. I really do, and I regret getting so wrapped up in my own problems that I didn’t see her as often as I had in the past. I can’t change that, but I know she never held it against me. We’d become a family of sorts too.
I’m on my own this evening. Pete is helping with the local play performances and will be back later. I had to go to him last evening to give him the news that his last grandparent was likely dying. She’s in the hospital now after a stroke, and it doesn’t look good. He was due to travel north to see her next week. He told me that when he saw her last year, she said she was ready to die. She goes through the motions, in a big house, alone. If she’s made peace with her readiness to die, we guess – after this stroke – it will happen soon.
Pete has an elderly computer client outside the village who is housebound; he’s kind of adopting her as a friend/grandparent. She has no one, sees almost no one, and is very smart. They get along great. She phoned him just before he left for the play this evening. She’s very ill and has been on fluids all week. No food. No one comes, and the one person who does check in on her is also elderly and can’t risk getting ill too. The doctor has come to her, but that is all. She called Pete because she knows him, he comes to her, and she trusts him. Her dog hasn’t been taken care of properly since she’s in bed. I think we’re going to go see what we can do to help her tomorrow. She didn’t ask us for help, but we’ll likely be cleaning up after the dog, and keeping a lonely, ill woman company for awhile. I think she’s becoming family too. I look forward to meeting her.
So things are always changing, Mom. People come into my life, people leave my life. Sometimes I’m lonely. I have the same propensity as you for keeping to myself and not going out much. Makes my little ‘family’ of friends and family very valuable to me. I may not see or chat with them nearly enough, but they are vital to my survival, even just knowing they are there. I am so grateful.
I love you and miss you.
[about Letters to Mom/LtM]