Thursday, March 5, 2015

Such a lady

I want to think of my parents together again, and take comfort from that. My mom has waited a long time, 19 years, with perfect assurance that she will see my father again. So I want to think of them as they are in that picture, or maybe as they were when they were just married. I can't quite feel it yet, and that troubles me a little bit, so I'm putting this photo up top, to make it all a little less surreal.

The phone hasn't stopped ringing, starting with my cousin Sharon at daybreak. I reached for the phone aware that I did not feel the stab of fear I have felt every morning for the past several weeks at the first call of the day. The worst has already happened. My cousin said she just wanted to hear my voice, that I was the closest she could come to hearing my mother's voice. We talked about my mom, about how I keep wanting to call her and ask her advice as we make the arrangements.

My son, who coaches track and field, has nationals weekend after next, which is also when my mother's service might be. Two of his athletes are going to nationals, including the kid he coached to the number one long jump record in the country. He hates the idea of not being there. But to move the date of my mom's memorial service will mean a lot of other people who want to be there but can only come on the weekend won't be able to make it. My mother's family and loved ones live far and wide, and a lot of people will be flying in to Jamaica for her send-off. I keep wanting to ask my mom what to do, to move the date so my son can coach his athletes at nationals, or to keep the date that is best for more people. My son will be there regardless, he says. He just wishes with his 23-year-old-heart to meet all commitments and to not have to choose. But if he must choose, his grandmother definitely wins.

Other people are also calling me, not just to offer comfort, but to feel closer to my mom. I know how they feel, because I want to talk to my Aunt Grace all day long. She is now the oldest sister, and her voice on the phone is so like my mother's that even their own children used to confuse them. She and her daughter went straight to my brother's house and sat with my mother until they took her away yesterday. Aunt Grace said my mom looked so peaceful, her body so small, almost childlike, the winkles all gone from her face. We talked about the fact that my mom is the third sister to go, and each one went in March, one year apart. Maisy on March 6, Winnie on March 22, and now Gloria on March 4. Aunt Grace said, "I wonder which one of the three sisters left will be marching out of here next year." Her daughter responded sternly, "Don't even try."

My brother had a hard day yesterday. Aunt Grace told me that he sobbed as they took our mother from the house. I am so grateful that he was there, holding our mother in his arms as she took her last breath. He lifted her from her recliner and carried her to the bed, and in that brief interlude, she departed.

His lodge buddies were at the house drinking with him last night. I called and tried to discuss dates for the service but it was clear he had hit a wall. "When you come on Sunday we'll work all that out," he said. As hard as my day was, his was harder. He had to go to the funeral home to make preliminary arrangements. Here in NewYork, my husband came home early from work to be with me. We spent the day quietly, making and fielding phone calls and emails and text messages from loved ones. My friends offered to come and sit with me, especially my Jewish friends whose ritual is to sit Shiva for seven days and receive guests and condolences. I loved them for wanting to come, but I felt a kind of social inertia. I think I just wanted to just be with my family last night, listening for my mom's whisper in the silence.

It's snowing so hard outside. I wasn't really sure that my mom could stop breathing and I would keep on. I didn't see how it was possible to be in this physical world without her.

But here I am.

Here she is not.


1. Mommy and Daddy on Christmas Day 1994
2. Grandma Camp in St. Lucia
3. I will never again be as unconditionally loved as this.
4. Mom and Aunt Grace in my cousin's pool
5. Mom with her sister Grace, my brother and her three oldest grandkids
6. Mommy and me a few years ago
7. One of the last pictures of a very great lady

Thank you to my dear friends here for your comments and emails and loving support. I am moved that my mother is in your hearts, too. You are most certainly in mine.


  1. For no other reason than the fact that this lady raised you, I can love her.
    And you have made me love her in so many different ways.
    As you have shared her with us, let us be there for you in grief.
    Loving you tightly and intensely...M

  2. I'm so glad that you have a community of family and friends to gather around you and comfort you. I am so very sorry that you lost your Mom.

  3. It's good to hear from you Angella. So many of us were thinking of you yesterday. Kimberly wrote a beautiful post about you that summed up my feelings as well. These photos are lovely and capture such wonderful memories. I know that at the beginning you are kept busy with all the details and then as time passes, the memories fill your soul. We are with you through this journey. So much love sent your way.

  4. You will never be without her. She is in your heart, your strength and your smile...Hugs to you all.

  5. What Ms. Moon said. Love you so.

  6. I'm sorry to hear about your Mom. Sending love to you and all who loved her.

  7. What Ms Moon said, again. And sending so much love to you, and grateful that you share as much of your Mother as you do here, and this beautiful images. Your brother sounds wonderful.

  8. I'm so sorry Angella (sorry about my slip in my previous comment) love to your family here and everywhere.

  9. I'm so very sorry for the loss of this woman, one of the matriarchs of such an incredible family. I'm sorry for you and your children, your brother, and everyone, all of you. Thinking of you and sending deepest love.

  10. I'm so glad you have such incredible support from all those around you.

  11. Pole sana ("so sorry" in Swahili) for your loss. My thoughts are with you and your family.

    - Wanjiku (Nairobi, Kenya)

  12. Echoing what Ms. Moon and e and everyone said. xxxooo

  13. Beautiful photos. Beautiful remembrances. Sending you love and peace.

  14. I'm so very sorry for your loss. Saying prayers of comfort and healing for you and your loved ones.

  15. So very sorry for your loss. Your photos really show the love in your family (and the way you write about them all). I hope that this love, together with the support of your blogging 'family' keeps you going in the dark days ahead. Adding my love and thoughts to you all xx