Join us as Diana Copland goes Outside the Margins.
April 29, 2015
From the chair I’m sitting in I can see a lilac bush across the street. It’s as big as an RV, covered in soft purple blooms. Spokane is called ‘The Lilac City’, and they’re in bloom. Everywhere. Everywhere you go, you can smell the sweet scent of lilacs. Everything is in full bloom; tulips and lilacs and daffodils. It’s beautiful. And it reminds me of my mom. She loved lilacs, and today is her birthday. She would have been 88 years old today. In fact, she was almost exactly the same age as the queen, something that tickled her. Last week when I saw the video of an entire cathedral of people singing ‘God Save the Queen’, and Elizabeth herself standing there in her white suit and white hat covered in tasteful rhinestones, I thought of my mom. She’d have loved that suit.
My mom has been gone for almost two years. She developed a case of shingles on her face and a month later she was dead. They could never really tell me specifically why she died; on her death certificate it says kidney failure and acute respiratory disease. She was a life-long asthmatic, so yeah, breathing was always an issue. But I don’t think that’s what killed my mom. I think she decided she was done, and she checked out.
I can’t really blame her. She had to use a walker and oxygen, and she hated both. She wasn’t a good patient, and the more compromised she became, the crankier she got. But more than anything, I don’t think she could handle what was happening to my dad. He was diagnosed with dementia, which is a nice way of saying he probably has Alzheimer’s but we can’t say that without an autopsy, and I don’t think she could deal with his fading memory and the fact he couldn’t remember how to make her coffee in the morning, or make the bed, or clean up the kitchen after dinner. See, this was their life, forever. My dad was the care giver and my mom was the one with the health issues, and he took care of her. Always. She had a horrible experience with a hip replacement, and he brought her home and took care of her. Every day, all day, for six months. Ailment after ailment, health issue after health issue, he was there for her. He cleaned their house. He took her out to eat. He kept their yard, and her lilac bushes, immaculate. I’ve never in my life seen such an example of devotion and dedication as was my dad for all of my life. And I don’t think she could deal with losing that, and so she quit. She didn’t know how to be to him what he’d been to her, and so she didn’t. But before she left, she did so much damage.
At one point in my life, my mom and I were best friends. Until after my husband died, until my kids were almost in high school, she was my first phone call if something happened, good or bad. She was the first person who knew I had a writing contract on my first book. She was the first person who knew… everything. And then Dad was diagnosed, and she became this person I didn’t know.
She didn’t just get impatient with him, she was mean. She lost whatever filter she might have had, and she said whatever she thought when she thought it. I cannot even calculate the number of times I said to her, “Mom, stop. That’s mean.” I know she didn’t feel good and she was angry at aging. She said so many times, “I’ve lived too long”. My answer was always, ‘Beats the hell out of the alternative’. But I knew she didn’t agree with me. She was mean to my dad, this person who adored her, and the look on his face was like a kicked puppy. He didn’t understand what he’d done. I couldn’t explain to him he’d done nothing at all. She did the one thing I couldn’t forgive her for, and it broke my heart even as it infuriated me. My dad was off limits, always. The quickest way I knew of to make me see red was to even hint at being mean to my dad. She was so angry and unhappy that she alienated her grandchildren, which would have broken the heart of the mom I remembered. By the time she passed, I didn’t even know who she was anymore. Just like my dad, I lost my mom a long time before she was actually gone. It hurt, and it still does.
I was in Target the other day, and there was an aisle of Mother’s Day cards. Some of them were so gorgeous, I stopped to look, thinking ‘my mom would have loved this’. It’s happening more often, now; that I remember the woman I adored instead of the one who was so unhappy. I remember she loved lilacs, and butterflies, and hummingbirds. I remember that she was a lovely artist, and she painted china, a truly lost art. I remember her delight in her grandchildren, and the way she smelled, and the way she was always so put together, right down to the color of her socks. Everything matched, always. She never wore any makeup because of skin allergies, but my mom was a lovely woman. When she was still my mom.
Someone I love told me that you never stop missing your parents when they’re gone. I get that now. But now, after two years, I’m able to miss my MOM, the one I remember from my childhood. I can’t grieve for who she became, I do grieve for who she was. And I remember her. I’m going to go through the seven hundred million photos she left behind, and find pictures of her with each of her grandchildren. Because I want them to remember her as she was, too. The woman with the big laugh and the silver hair, who said stuff she shouldn’t but loved you in her own way. The woman who loved my dad as much as he loved her. I’m grateful I can remember them that way, finally.
Today is my mom’s 88th birthday, and next Tuesday, on what would have been his 91st, we’ll be burying my dad in a niche with her at the Veterans Cemetery. He’ll be receiving full military honors, something that probably would have embarrassed the shy, unassuming person he was, but he earned them the hard way during WWII. My own personal member of the ‘greatest generation’, and in his case, they weren’t kidding about that.
And I know, I KNOW, my mom would have worn her best suit and her matching socks, and she would have loved it.
~ Diana Copland
About Diana Copland
Diana Copland began writing in the seventh grade, when she shamelessly combined elements of Jane Eyre and Dark Shadowsto produce an overwrought Gothic tale that earned her an A- in creative writing, thanks entirely to the generosity of her teacher. She wrote for pure enjoyment for the next three decades before discovering LiveJournal and a wonderful group of supportive fanfiction writers, who after gifting her with a “”Best New Author”” Award encouraged her to try her hand at original gay fiction.
Born and raised in southern California, Diana moved to the Pacific Northwest after losing a beloved spouse to AIDS in 1995. She lives in eastern Washington with four obnoxious cats, near her two wonderful adult children.
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
|This post may contain affiliate links.
|Prism Book Alliance® assumes no liability for the ownership of photos or content used in guest posts and interviews. The post author assumes all responsibility and liability for this content.|