This time of year has become a sometimes-difficult time. My Mother’s birthday was 01/02. Beginning with Thanksgiving through Christmas and New Year, the memories flood with a bittersweet feeling. As I compose this, I think of all who have lost loved ones at any time and Send prayers of strength and joy that they may have sweet memories more than bitter ones. My wife’s cousin lost his Soul mate recently, and the world dimmed a little as her light was taken up to shine in heaven. My family has lost many loved ones during this time of year. Over the decades I lost a sister on November 22 just a few years before we lost a president on the same day. During the month of October, my father passed. My wife’s mother passed away in the month of November with her father following just a few years later. My mother’s Father Passed on Christmas Eve in 1976, and his wife followed in 1996 on December 22. In 2020 My Mother went to heaven on the 23rd of January. I do not remember the dates of all my family members’ death, But I remember each of them while they lived. My Aunt Shirley passed in the winter; my cousin Robin was also in the winter. And my cousin Brett lost his battle with ALS in the winter as well.
Winter is dreary for a reason. It is when nature allows things to die or slumber to allow a rebirth or awakening in the spring. Each of us must deal with our grief and process the loss. I am still going through my mother’s things as she saved everything, I had seven peritoneal dialysate boxes in my office after she passed. This week I finally made my way through the last two in my office. Most of it was just clippings from the paper, but before I tossed any of them, I decided to look at what she saved and try to imagine why each piece was special. It didn’t take long to realize that other than all the recipes there were pictures of places all around the world. There were sections celebrating Midwest City and Tinker ALOC. There were clippings of different decades of Oklahoma City and its changing skyline. Features about different landmarks and buildings that had been removed to make room for a more modern OKC. I began to realize that since her Stroke in 2005 and decreased mobility, she would not be able to travel very much. She lived with us, and we would take her with us to some places, but she couldn’t drive or manage to travel on her own. I had become her interrupter as her Stroke caused a condition called global aphasia. In simple terms her mind was sharp, and she knew what she wanted to say but her communication center was damaged, and her sentences or phrases didn’t make sense. Example (Sitting at the dining room table reading the newspaper she looked out the window and saw a squirrel running across the back fence) “Oh my Look at the quorkil” she exclaimed. We saw the squirrel and had to laugh. From now on those brown furry-tailed things were Quorkils. Yes, moms’ perseverance was an issue. She would use the same word over and over and I had to decipher what she meant. Don’t get me wrong, she did have times when she was absolutely clear, knowing when those times were was the challenge. “I have to get the peoples to wash the peoples” Out would come the perseverance dictionary and after many questions, she wanted to change her sheets. It could backfire though, “I need some new Shoes” when she said ‘Shoes” which was one of those words that could mean something completely different and was a frequent word we would play the game “Ok Mom what are you meaning with shoes? Is it…?” after naming several things she gave that look of “What is so hard about wanting Shoes?” she pointed to her feet and again said SHOES! I burst out laughing and said, “Oh you really meant shoes”. Her response was classic “What did you think I meant?” There I stood with the stupid look I have been acquiring since her stroke, and she realized that her moment of clarity was funny, and we laughed.
All those memories and emotions that were flooding in became too much to handle and I finally broke down and cried. It didn’t resolve the pain of missing her, but it did help.
I share this with you to let you know that we all deal with grief in diverse ways and that sometimes we just must release it and cry. I don’t think of those tears as sadness for they are tears of joy. Remembering all the good things and many happy times.