I feel suspended in time. I am dealing with my Mom’s estate and I continue to take stock of her life. She told me in the year before her death she was a social misfit; she had no social grace. Funny thing is that is what I noticed my whole life. My mom was loud and boisterous. She laughed, loud, at jokes. She went about her life doing what she did, insisting others help her on her time, being the center of her own life. As a child, I found it embarrassing.
At her memorial people spoke of how much they loved her. “She was a great lady.” Some of the stories they told all tied into that lack of social grace - what I saw.
Her minister told the story of how Mom called her up. “I have flowers for you.”
“Come get them. And, bring your shovel.”
“Miss Virginia, I’m working.”
“I’m not. Come get these.”
And so, Tillie dropped what she was doing and went over to my mom’s house. When she got there, it was a huge bed of yellow iris.
“Miss Virginia, This is a lot of flowers. I don’t have time to dig all this right now.”
Mom had other ideas and together they dug up those irises. Tillie says it only took them about two hours. And, Mom had her way.
People loved her smile and her heart and the way she showed up. They loved her tenacity. It wasn’t about some ideal of perfection. It was about who she was. There was never any question.
I talked with Mom’s financial planner recently. He first told me what a great lady she was. Then he told me a story about her calling him up and telling him she needed him to come over to her office, right now. She needed him to explain pensions to a client. She said when he explained; she understood but she couldn’t explain it to another person. He needed to come to do that. So he did.
Mom lived her life assuming everyone would do as she wanted. She’d call me up and say I’ll be there July 7th through the 23rd. I have this class and this thing I want to do and we can have time together. She never asked if we were busy. She assumed she could come. It drove me crazy for years. And, I’m sure others found it irritating. But “she was a great lady.”
I’ve spent my life hiding, not rocking the boat, not wanting to disturb another. I used to call friends and ask what they were doing with their weekend. If it seemed they might be free, I’d ask if they wanted to get together. I never just asked first.
I have never been good at calling my children. I didn’t want to disturb their busy lives. I have regrets about that now. But it’s all part of this thing I have that somehow I am an interruption in others’ lives. I think I saw my mom going about being herself and thought I never want to be like my mom. With her death, I’ve learned it would have been a privilege to be like her. The real question is, what now?