Friday, October 29, 2010
I was struck this evening by the particular arrangement of items at my mom's bedside. There are her land line phone and cell phone, since we have impressed on her that one should always be within her reach. And there are her Daily Word devotional and other prayer books, and a calendar with a daily meditation and scripture. The lamp base looks like a jeweled heirloom, the perfume bottle has a certain grace, and the lace cloth is something my mother crocheted herself, before her fingers grew too riddled with arthritis and she put down her crochet needles for good. There is a silk orchid in a sculpted vase, and at the center of it all, a photograph of the man she married, my father, back when she first met him, on a day when he was astride a motorcycle that belonged to his cousin.
These are the items that rest near her head as she sleeps. My father would have turned 87 years old last week Friday, on October 22. I think he is closer to my mother now than at any time since he died 14 years ago. My mother, who is getting very frail and stooped, whose voice is getting smaller and thinner, fully believes that she will see him again on the other side.
My mom has been talking a lot about dying. She says that when I hear she is gone, I am not to weep for her, that her life has been rich beyond measure. She will leave New York for Jamaica and my brother's house in a little more than a week. She has said many times in the last several weeks that she does not believe she will be coming back this way. It is hard to hear her say such things, and I have kept mentally pushing away what she has been trying to tell me. But tonight, looking at her bedside table, all of it quietly settled in.
One of my cousins is getting married in Jamaica in January, the same week as my mom's 89th birthday. My mother plans to be at the wedding. Tonight I decided that I will be there, too. I pray we have some time yet, and that I will use it consciously and well.