The Next 61 Days
Thanksgiving began the holiday season I’ve been dreading all year after the death of my mother, The Ancient One, in January. You see, all of the “firsts” that everyone warns you about in the first year after losing a loved one hit in the next 61 days. I guess I should look on the positive side and think, “well, I’m just getting them over all at once.”
On Thanksgiving, she wasn’t sitting at the end of the table in her red wool coat because my house is always “so damned cold.” No, Mom, we don’t keep our thermostat on the ‘hinges of hell’ setting like you did. That red coat made her look like Little Red Riding Hood, the AARP years. That coat is the only piece of clothing I couldn’t send to charity. After she had bird picked at her food (she didn’t have much of an appetite the last few years), she’d impatiently start asking for dessert before anyone else had time to finish their plate, much less had seconds.
December 21st would have been her 88th birthday. Mom hated cold weather, and always thought it was unfair she had been born on the first day of winter. She also didn’t like having her birthday so close to Christmas. I’m right there with you this year, Mom.
For as much as she hated winter, she loved Christmas. Growing up, Christmas was an event. She decorated everything from doorknobs to toilet seats. She had so many decorations that we had to clear off tables, shelves, refrigerator magnets, and a few pictures from the walls just to accommodate the multitude of Christmas decorations. And the tree! She had enough decorations to have decorated three trees. But no, she was hell bent and determined that they all go on one tree. The tree alone would take an entire day. No matter how many times I would say, “there’s no more room!” she’d find a spot to wedge in another poor little angel covered in enough glitter to make a stripper say ‘enough’. While cleaning out her house (yes, I’m still at it) I’ve ignored the closet with the Christmas decorations. I guess that I can’t put it off any longer. I need to bring my favorite pieces/memories home with me, to incorporate into my Christmas decor.
Since I was old enough to go out on New Year’s Eve, Mom always insisted that I was to call her at the stroke of midnight, no matter where I was or what I was doing. No excuses allowed. When the ball drops on 2016 I will have to stop myself from reaching for the phone after kissing Stud Muffin.
I know what you’re thinking; New Year’s ends this sad period in Taffy’s life. Nope! Three days into the New Year I get to celebrate THAT birthday. You know the one. The one everyone likes to remind you that you are now a half-a-century old. Yeah, that bitch of a birthday.
Then I finally come to the last first. January 25th. The day she left us at the end of the worst blizzard in years. The day the neighbors banded together to dig a path from her door to the main road, because her tiny one-way city street was impassable. They knew the funeral home was coming to carry her, feet first, out of the house that she had lived in since 1960. She always said that she wanted to die at home and have “McCully’s carry me out of this house feet first.” She got her wish.
In the next 61 days I will also deal with the removal of a malignant tumor on our eight-year-old Lab’s foot. There is a possibility that Molly may lose toes in the effort to save her life. Two days after Christmas, I will have a surgical procedure myself. My uterus has decided to be a complete raving lunatic which refuses to be ignored. I’m hoping she gets her eviction notice. Buh-Bye, Felicia!
I’ll survive. I know I will. Want to know how I know? Because the woman I am mourning raised me to rise to any problem, look it in the eye, and bulldoze through it. If she were here she would tell me, “You can’t change it, so just get it over with and be done with it. It’s only a big deal if you let it be.” It’s a big deal, Ma, a really big deal.
So I cooked dinner yesterday and served the bird on Mom’s turkey platter. I’ll decorate the house down to the doorknobs and toilets. I’ll smile some. I’ll laugh some. I’ll cry some (read: a lot). Maybe I’ll get invited to some of those holiday parties I see on Facebook every year (I use deodorant. Brush my teeth. Don’t cuss in front of your kids. Know which fork to use. What gives?) and get distracted by good friends, great food, and too much wine.