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 bridge group and 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.


  1. Reading this, I realize what a void I've always had where a mother was concerned. This is not a new realization. But it makes my heart so happy to know that daughters can truly love their mothers. Sons too.
    Your mothers/aunts are so strong. They live out their lives until their spirits are done and then then go. It's a long process but a beautiful one.
    I love you so much, Angella. You have no idea.

    1. Darling Mary, this is how your children feel about you. They adore and depend on you. And they are endlessly entertained by you. And Lily is deeply grateful for your imprint oh her sons. You are the planet around which they spin. We spin gratefully around you in blog world too! You are that wonderful combination of plain spoken and kind. I love you so.

  2. I love the time of evening you show in the photo, when it starts to cool off and the frogs, crickets and other night creatures begin singing. I hope that this lovely view, so sublime at this transition from day to night, brings a little joy to your mom every day.

  3. Gosh between your post Angella and the comments from Ms. Moon and you I'm in tears. You are both such sweet amazing ladies. Hugs.

  4. I know that void. My mother has days when she can hear somewhat and days when she can't, and it's frightening and frustrating for both of us. I've started writing her letters if I have something important to tell her, because even on a good day she won't hear much of what I say. Letters have the added benefit of re-reading, so she has a greater chance of remembering details.

    I feel such guilt now about the years past when I was too busy and impatient and caught up in my own head to call her more often.

    Love to you both, my friend.

  5. So sweet and so sad, and yet so uplifting, to know you have been blessed with a family so full of love, so present and supportive of each other. What a gift, and how natural to be greedy for more, more, more. The distance is so hard, I know that so well, and I would give anything to have back more time with my Dad, or even to remember the mundane details of our last conversations together, which were sadly on the phone, three days before my flight out to visit with him. I tell myself all the time that I had him in my life much, much longer than I ever had a right to hope for, but still I miss him more than I could have imagined.
    Sending love your way, and hoping your heart isn't too heavy with the distance you can't bridge right now. Also wishing some wonderful family would appear and buy your Aunts things, so you would know they are going to a loving home. The letting go of the things is hard too.

  6. Really,really blessed. Yes we are.

  7. This brought a tear to my eye...I always wanted a mother I would pick the phone up for everyday, but the one I had was difficult, to say the least...Yours and all of your Aunties sound wonderful and gave you a strong identity and foundation, which you have given your own children.Best to you all.

  8. Dear Angella. I wish I could wrap you up in something comforting and warm. How I admire your ability to sit with the everything, with all of it, and let it be.

  9. Oh, my heart goes out to you in those phone calls, to you and your mother both. It's so so hard, the distance, but you at least cross it emotionally. She can feel your emotional closeness, which is probably why she wonders sometimes if you're there. I can feel you trying to prepare yourself for losing her...How will we manage this loss of our very old, very precious mothers after the losses of so many others dear to us? I think of your Aunt Winnie, my Aunt Mattie, and all the rest. Well, we have each other, at least virtually, and we all understand and send you love.