Last week was a busy one with being there for my father, planning the funeral and cleaning out my mother's room at the long term home where she had lived since her massive stroke in February of 2012. Throughout the week I was told by so many that I seem to be so strong. I had to explain that I fall apart after the fact. It would be a slippery slope to begin to crack. There is no time for it when there are things to arrange, details to remember and people to thank.
As I always do in times of great sorrow, I turn to nature for comfort. Each day that we drove South, was an amazing bright, crisp and sunny day. The foliage was at a premium gold, standing out against a deep blue sky. On numerous occasions I would witness large gold leaves floating to the ground. Even last night, Susan and I walked through heaps of leaves sitting on the front lawn of my father's apartment building. We walked slowly and listened to the leaves crunch under our feet, remembering how we used to do this together as children while walking home from elementary school, sometimes leaving the sidewalk to walk in the gutter where the leaves were deeper.
On Monday I took comfort from a beautiful little cat who was just past kittenhood. This little white creature ran out to greet us all as we headed up the path of my father's building. I took a moment to love her up. She wanted to come into the building with us and so Susan left the door open only a crack as she waited for me. I later teased my family that it was Mom. She was after all white, my mother's surname. She had pink spots on her as if she had gotten too close to a child colouring with markers. Pink was my mother's favourite colour. Most importantly, she was friendly and very chatty, just like Mom. When we came out of the building with my Dad to head over to the funeral home to make arrangements, she greeted us once again following us to the sidewalk. I almost expected her to jump into the car. At last she spied a leaf blowing by, chased it and then ran away. I told my father later the next day, that if he ever saw that beautiful little cat again, to be sure to stop and say, "Hello Patsy." Patsy was my father's term of endearment for my mother. I still look for that little cat each time I go to Dad's.
On Wednesday, we stopped by the graveyard to view what would be my mother's final resting place. We drove in and there stood a beautiful two point buck. He froze when he saw us, looking so majestic. Rob stopped the car so we could just take in his beauty. It was a peaceful moment.
Planning a funeral is a strange event. Throughout the week, Susan and I were often heard saying to each other, "I wish Mom was here to see this. She would really like this." The service was lovely. There was even a passage read about knitting, my mother's favourite hobby. As I sat next to Susan listening to the words spoken of my mother, I could hear in the background, the gentle and happy cooing of my second cousin's baby daughter. This symbol of youth soothed me. It reminded me that in this life we are all born and we all must die. I am usually a person who values my own personal space but this week found me hugging every person I could get my hands on. I usually enjoy the peacefulness of my time alone but this week I wanted to be surrounded by people.
I always try to find the ray of hope and happiness during bad times. This week I got to spend time with my brother Andrew and Chantal. Although it was a very sad circumstance, I was so happy to be in their company.
When we got back to my father's I insisted on a small photo session. Apparently, I am taking over for my mother. It was always she who lined us up for a series of photos featuring different combinations of family members. There was good natured grumbling and Susan was even heard to say, "Okay Mom". I know it was a sad time but I still wanted photos of my family together. Now we are four.
I am not sure what this next week will hold for me. Life gets back to normal and there is more time alone. More time to think. Since the funeral, sleep does not come easy. I lay awake for hours with my mind running. The walls that I put up to help me get through the funeral duties are starting to slowly crumble, now that it is okay to fall apart. Part of me wants to hide in my studio and create, part of me wants to embark on a huge Fall deep clean, just to stay busy and part of me wants to just lay on the sofa with the dogs. This stage of life, this losing parents, is a hard one.
I will leave you with a photo that I took of my mother in 2008, that we displayed at the service.
Sunday October 15th 1933 ~ Sunday October 6th 2013