I’m back from California, and have had major writer’s block for an entire week. Actually, what I needed to do was process and sort out everything that happened over the nine days I was away.
The trip started with Mom coming to visit me in Texas and seeing the house for the first time! She was extremely delighted to see that I do not live on a dry prairie full of tumbleweeds, nor a house surrounded by a corral. No guns racks, either! Mom *was* surprised by the “megachurches” that loom up out of the horizon, with a cattle farm next door and a place that looks like Southfork next to that. What can I say about the zoning laws here? That’s right, there are NONE. Everyone does what they want, including smoke inside public places. (I’m still not over that.)
A few days later we took our journey to California. We landed in Corona del Mar, and the next morning, we got a call my that cousin Sally had passed a few hours earlier. We did not get a chance to say that final goodbye, but we took comfort in knowing *she* knew we were coming.
Late last fall, Sally and her husband took what they thought would be her last trip to Cape Cod. There we had a big Italian dinner overlooking the water, and enjoyed a LOT of laughs and shed a few tears:
We were touched we had one last weekend to spend with her and reminisce about all the vacations we spent in Nantucket. Family and friends would ferry over every Memorial Day and spend a glorious week by the ocean, eating, drinking, sitting on the beach, and telling ghost stories at night.
It’s hard to imagine she is gone. I can still hear her laugh and her signature line “God that is just so cute!” If there was one thing Sally liked to do, it was shop and decorate, and there was NOTHING she didn’t think was cute.
The other mission we undertook in California was visiting with Mom’s sister, my Aunt Mary. To unfold the entire story of her life would take numerous blog posts, but the short story is she was estranged from our family for many years. Not too long ago, my Mom was contacted by a young girl who said she was Mary’s daughter. We were all blessed to meet her and it was her appearance in our lives that facilitated contact with Mary.
Sadly, Mary is wheelchair bound and in an assisted living facility with a disease similar to Lou Gehrig’s. She was been slowly losing her motor skills, and can no longer dress, feed or bathe herself. Her sense of humor is still intact and she knows EVERYTHING about pop culture. You should have seen her laugh when I mentioned Kim and Kanye’s baby!
What is so sad is that she cannot communicate. She can get some words out, but it’s easier to have a conversation and let her listen
and react. We heroically got her out to lunch in a beautiful restaurant by the Dana Point Harbor, and she heartily enjoyed her lunch. When I left that day I hugged her and told her I loved her, and I suspect we both knew this would be the last time we would each other. I cannot forget feeding her and the joy she took in being out with her family; it made me take stock of life. I wish we could have all the years she was away back again.
A million words of wisdom and sayings came to mind this past week, but the Cherokee proverb expresses it simply. It does no good to dwell on the past, but launch yourself into the day, and live it the best way you can.
But I will still remember Mary as she was:
And thanks everyone, for listening today.