Wednesday, December 2, 2015

The detritus of a life

So here I am three years past Mom's death and just starting to deal with her clothes, paperwork and other detritus of her life.  I find things that make me stop and examine her in new ways.  I consider her curly signature and she comes back to life.  Today it is bank statements.  Like many of her generation she never threw paperwork away.  I tried to get her to shred her bank statements, receipts, CD notices of renewal.

No...there they all are in a grocery bag.  I pull everything out of envelopes.  I unfold everything...lay it flat.  I am preparing to shred all of it.  I have to say, it feels strange, it feels sad, it feels final.  Not the way I am sure she wanted her documents to end.  She probably wanted me to save keep it safe.  To keep it away from prying eyes.  She was always a suspicious not inclined to trust others. In the end, she was forced to trust me because my brother wouldn't help her and my Dad was already gone.

I can remember many trips to the bank to check her balance, to renew her CD' make sure everything was in order.  She calculated and recalculated her statements.  As this became more difficult, she became more frustrated.  One of our last big confrontations was over her checking account balance.  She didn't understand what I was trying to explain to her and I couldn't handle the frustration of trying to get her to understand anymore.  In light of the information that she suffered from dementia all this becomes clearer now.

I see her final bills for the nursing home and I am brought back to that time of thrice weekly visits.  Eating dinner with her every Tuesday and Thursday night.  Breakfast there every Sunday morning.  Always fending off her pleas to come home with me.  My explanations about the house not being set up for someone in a wheelchair.  The bags of double chocolate peanuts to keep her happy.  Trying to get her to be interested in anything.  It turned out she was interested in sitting in the hall by the dining room.  She loved to people watch..had been doing it all of her life.

She was actually surrounded by people.  She was no longer isolated in her apartment looking out the window as people walked on the sidewalk below.

In the end, she was not happy in the nursing home...but then again, who really is happy in a place where you go to die?  She said she would not see 93 in her last fall.  I told her that she was not entirely in charge, but it turned out she was.  She died at 92 on Oct. 3, 2012, one day after my birth 58 years before in 1954.  I think it was her desire to hang on for my birthday.  It may also have been her plan that I would never forget her if she died one day after my birthday.  In the end, she was in charge.  As her daughter, I always saw her as a force of all that was good about her and all that was bad about her.

To your detritus, Genevieve.  I loved you then, I love you now.  I feared you then, but I no longer fear you now.  Rest in peace.