Perhaps the only relationship in my life more complicated than the one with my mother was that which my father and I
enjoyed endured. For years, and until my father's death, I was completely estranged from my family. But, for the past thirty years (nearly half my life to date), I have been blessed with a renewed relationship with my mother and siblings since his passing provided the opportunity for a rapprochement and the reacquaintance which developed thereafter, albeit with some significant continued tensions over differences in politics, notions of social justice, and even (if not especially) metaphysics.
Evening has fallen on that renewed bond, as my mother, whose somewhat prudish ways prevented her so much as ever having taken a puff on a cigarette, was diagnosed with lung cancer. Having in just the last twelve years survived a bilateral radical mastectomy for breast cancer, a stroke and its aftermath, and a leg fracture sustained in a fall so serious that it required a six-hour surgery the doctors did not expect her to survive, she's done. She is fearful of what comes next, and deeply regretful she probably will not live to see her great grandchildren again (whom she adores despite or because of great geographical distance) let alone watch them grow up. Nonetheless, she has decided to decline treatment, and has been discharged to hospice care in her assisted living apartment, where I spent the evening with her last night. I was taken aback by how rapidly she is declining, her diagnosis being so recent. It seems unlikely she will live to see her 94th birthday the 19th of this month, but the doctors are being especially vague with their prognosis.
After our visit, and still somewhat numbed by it, I went to Denny's for a late supper, it being one of the few places open in our small city after the more normal dinner hour. I decided to log on with my tablet to post a quick note to the "Top Comments" thread, and on the front page, in an eerie bit of coincidence, found Auntie Neo Kawn's superb diary on the Rec List about the impending death of her mother. I found in it both resonance and dissonance, painful parallels and reassuring contrasts. Reading it in the harsh lighting and plastic ambiance of my surroundings with frequent interruptions by an over-attentive server was as odd an experience as were the preceding hours of sitting by my mother's newly installed hospital bed, straining to hear her weak voice.
Now, I dread her funeral nearly as much as her passing itself. It will be held in a church whose narrow and judgmental approach to religion caused me great pain in my youth, and it is not an exercise in melodrama to say it nearly cost me my life at my own hands. I literally pray to God I am not called upon to speak, but if I were cajoled into delivering anything resembling a eulogy, it would go something like what follows "below the fold."