This is not my usual post, but I’ve been searching my memory for a long time to come up with memories of my Mom. See, she has been gone from my life for almost thirty-four years. Before I lose anymore of my memories of her, I wanted to write everything down that I could remember about her including the time surrounding her death. Seems a suitable time since today would have been her 79th birthday. So…here goes.
I remember it being a chilly day in January of 1982 when my brother came to pick me up from my friend Jill’s house. Sometimes Jill would come to my house, but normally we had sleepovers at her place. Our brothers were good friends, so it was usually one of them that shipped us between houses. Back to my story… when my brother picked me up on this particular day, he had a look of grimness as he told me that we were going to have to take my mom to the hospital later that day. The thought that it would be one of the last times I would see my mom never entered my mind.
After a couple of tests, it was determined that my mom had an extreme case of Cirrhosis of the Liver and she was immediately admitted. I remember seeing her once during her stay. Maybe just a couple of days after she was admitted. After that, my Dad would not let me see her…later, I understood why.
The next two weeks or so seemed to move rather slowly and most of my days had the same agenda: get up, go to school, do homework, go to bed. I do remember feeling kind of like a zombie during this time. One day (I do not remember the date), I got off the bus and walked to and then through the front door. My dad was just standing there staring at the door as I entered. I walked up to him and he hugged me so tight and muttered the words I did not want to hear: “I don’t think mama’s coming home baby.”
After that day, I kept on drudging through the days — more like a zombie than ever. On the morning of February 8th 1982, I awoke to lights in the kitchen. Usually, my Dad was already at work by the time my alarm went off for school. Walking into the kitchen rubbing my eyes, I noticed papers all over the table. He came over to me and gave me the same hug he had a few days earlier. I knew what he was going to say and I was right: “Mama’s gone baby…she’s gone.”
The funeral was the next day. My Dad always liked to get painful things done really quickly. Kind of like ripping a band aid off rapidly instead of slowly removing it. During the service, I remember walking up with my Dad to see her and him having to carry me out. I also remember Mrs Pittman, who lived across the street from us, crying hysterically. They used to go fishing together a lot, so they had become fairly close…if I remember right.
After the service, we went back to my Aunt Juanita’s house where we celebrated my cousin’s birthday. However, instead of participating in the festivities, I locked myself in the bathroom for a pretty good while. I do remember having to be talked down for a few days, then I just went into a black hole of avoidance.
I avoided everything other than school. My routine became: wake up, go to school, go to bedroom, go to bed. If you notice, homework was not in that routine. My grades continued to plummet and I continued to avoid everything and everyone for at least a month or two. Luckily, the idea of losing the friends that I did have (Stacey, Jennifer, Carolyn, etc) because I had to be held back a grade finally sunk in. I began to do homework as well as LOTS of extra credit papers and pulled my grades to barely passing. I was able to graduate from Middle to High School with my friends.
I eventually started living a normal life despite my mom’s absence, but it was not an easy thing to do. Later in life, my Aunt Shirley (rest her soul) and my Aunt Linda took over the role quite well.
Some of the things I remember about my mom:
- She would always bring Doritos and a coke when she picked me up from school
- She would drive her ’77 Grand Prix really fast over the railroad tracks on CC Camp Road causing one’s heart to sink into their stomach…like a roller coaster. My cousins and I would scream “Do it again!” and she would.
- She would say “I love you” every day
- She cried for days after hearing the news of Elvis Presley’s death
Thank you for understanding why I had to put my memories and soul searching down in print. I have felt as if I’m losing memories of her and I do not want that to happen.