Wednesday, September 3, 2014
What she sees
That's my mother's view come evening from the window of her room upstairs at my brother's home in Kingston, Jamaica. I am really missing her today.
Her big sister Winnie's birthday is coming up in a few days, and all the years of gathering to celebrate her are at an end, my aunt having closed her eyes for good last March 22. I remember all the dates when the old ones died, a ticker tape in my head. My dad. My mother in law and father in law. Aunt Maisy. All the aunts and uncles. But Aunt Winnie's absence in particular feels like a void, her apartment just across the courtyard moving steadily towards being sold. We have a buyer, a young family with two recently adopted sons. Soon, the last evidence of my aunt's decades of life in the city will be gone. The apartment is being cleared out as we speak, with some very good items going I know not where, because I simply couldn't find anyone able to take them. No one has space for an iota of extra stuff in the city, and those who could use, say, the sofa bed I bought for my aunt not even two years ago, do not have the means to transport it. Oh well. It will end up somewhere.
And now, with my mom, I feel another kind of void opening up, because she can't talk on the phone very well any more, and I miss with a fierce ache the days when I would chat to her about everything, the long distance phone bill astronomical because I called literally every day of the week, discussing my life, wanting her input on all of it, simply enjoying just talking to her and hearing her wisdom and humor and kindness and intelligence, sharing news of her grandchildren, knowing her joy in hearing about them was infinite. I try for wholesome acceptance of what is and appreciation of the fact that she is still with us. I try not to get lost in regret. And so I call and have our increasingly one-sided conversations. I tell her things, knowing she's not grasping all of it. Sometimes she asks when I'm coming by, and I remind her I'm in New York, and it confuses her. I wonder if she thinks I'm in Kingston somewhere and just haven't been to see her. I hope not. She says, again and again, "We have been so blessed," and indeed we have been. Indeed I have been.