Tag Archives: death of a mother

Grief: Writing Back. #Sympathy Cards, #Condolences, #Etiquette


I am about to take pen to paper, in a literal sense and finally respond to all the people who’ve expressed their sympathies to me when Mom died in September.

that's a lot of writing. i'm glad i read about who gets a note back or i'd be here for weeks.

two stacks. that’s a lot of writing. i’m glad i read about when to send a reply or i’d be here for weeks.


I have avoided this task because I’m basically not quite sure I understand it. I started a post back in November (which I didn’t share) about my appreciation for the symbolism of the sympathy cards, but my general dislike of having to return the sentiment in some form of acknowledgement. I can hear my grandmother saying, “Send those notes, Molly…” and I can also hear my mother say, “Why bother? People know you know they sent the note… who is this for? Them?”


It’s like this to me: “You sent me a note to tell me you’re sad for my loss and that you know I’m sad. Thank you. Now I will send you a note back to tell you I appreciate that you knew I was sad and that I’m grateful you were co-sad with me or aware of my sadness. Here’s me seeing you seeing me.” It’s Avatar to the Nth degree.

I’m sure I’m supposed to reply in a year. I haven’t even bothered to check in with Emily Post about it. But Grandma wins and I’m about to start the notes. I’ll check in with you when I’ve finished the task. I started this post on Friday, June 6, 2014. I expect I’ll wrap it up sometime around September 2016.

Not so fast…

Well, shit.

I wish I’d checked in with the internet first.

Real Simple magazine says send them, but if you’re too devastated, don’t because real sympathy means your loved ones understand: “True sympathy means respecting the grieving process, selflessly and without expectation.”

ask.MetaFilter.com (who knows what that is) says if you get a (just a) card (in absence of flowers, etc), then you don’t need to send a card because you wouldn’t send a card back for just a birthday card. Snarky MetaFilter.

FuneralWise.com says: “There is no official time frame, but within two-three weeks of the funeral or memorial service is appropriate.

You don’t need to send a formal thank you note to everyone who attended the funeral/visitation or sent you a sympathy card. Instead, a thank you note or acknowledgement should be sent to anyone who has done something extra, including:

    • Pallbearers or people who have sent or brought flowers, donations, food, support, etc.”

Then it goes on to say this, “So the funeral of your loved one was over a month ago (or several months, or even a year or more). You forgot to send thank you notes, or you just didn’t have the heart to do it at the time. Now you’re feeling better, and you’re wondering: Is it too late?”

While “… it’s never too late; you will need to acknowledge the delay in sending the note. For example, preface your thank you with something like this: ‘I’m sorry it took me so long, but I do want to thank you for your kindness…’ Or, ‘My apologies for the delay in sending this, but your gift of flowers for Joe’s funeral service was lovely, and I wanted to thank you…'”

So that helps. I’ll go with FuneralWise. I’ve sent sympathy cards to people and sometimes I received replies and sometimes I didn’t. I never kept score. People go out of their minds when someone dies; the last thing they need to worry about is offending someone who’s offered emotional support.

It also helps me remember at this point, now nine months later, how thoughtful people were when it all went down. When I was 15, our next door neighbor suffered a horrible loss of her live-in grandchild who was ejected from a car in an accident. Less than a year before, my younger cousin also died in a vehicle-related accident and the whole thing was BRUTAL. His parents were experiencing marital discord in the months preceding his death and so his accident ripped everyone apart.

For my neighbor, whom I barely knew, I made a huge tuna casserole as some form of outreach. I didn’t ask, I just showed up with the food and walked away. I remembered how raw we all were at my cousin’s funeral and then reception, so I knew that family was suffering. Eating, much less cooking is the last thing on your mind.

Back to 2013. We had a small, impromptu gathering at my house here in Virginia the day after Mom died. My in-laws, some sibs-in-law and close high school and college friends came by to see my brothers who’d also swooped in to cocoon, hunker down, help Dad deal, and start strategizing logistics for the Mass and funeral ceremonies.

It’s all coming back to me now, which is a good thing.

The day Mom died, Labor Day, was the day before school started here. The night she died, Dad spent the night with my younger brother, his pregnant wife and their two little kids. The next day, I got up (I’m not sure I slept), took my kids to school, put on a brave face and operated on autopilot. My husband took the day off from work; my older brother flew in from NYC and arrived on an 11am shuttle. We went to lunch at a Thai place near my home almost immediately after dropping off his luggage.

I remember it clearly now: my husband and I picked him up at the airport, and he dumped his bags in my SUV’s “wayback” (as I used to call it when I was a kid) and we drove home. I want to say we were all quiet in the car. But I also want to say, we all, the three of us talked about Mom, talked about how surreal and crazy it all was, and then I want to say we listened to the Rolling Stones or Led Zeppelin.

When we pulled up to the house, we parked and my brother took his bags to our guest room, washed his face and then plopped himself on one of our leather chairs. He sighed, ran his hands through his hair a couple times and said, “Screw it. I’m hungry. You hungry? Let’s get some lunch. My treat.”

We got back in the car, drove a few miles away and each ordered lunch. More “what the hell” and “Mom’s dead…” “How’s Dad? This is so crazy…” stuff at the table. It probably was one of the coolest times I’ve ever had with my brother as we’ve become adults. It was very real and vulnerable and safe. All bets were off and we could say anything we wanted, no judgement. The only rule was no rules.

That heavily lacquered table in the strip mall Thai restaurant with the useless polyester napkins which don’t ever absorb, and its Zen-inspired Asian piano & wind chime music was the birthplace of, “We’re all a little crazy, Mol.”

We each had a Corona and a lime. Talked and talked for about two hours. Then we shared one more Corona and got back in the car. We drove back to our house and then friends started to show up, just … out of the blue. They knew what had happened, but we didn’t make any plans, they just knew we’d be home and likely zombie idiots who’d forgotten how to feed ourselves. They descended with love and reality as if to say, “We are coming to support you and we don’t really care what you say…” CaraLeigh, Donna, Jeff, John, Scott, Matt, Tom, Jill, Tom, Laurie … It was very life-fulfilling and it gave me hope. I cleaned the kitchen. Barely sat down. Couldn’t really sit still. Food from Kelly, Rebecca, Donna and Jill was so loving. We’ve gone back to eating cereal…

The weather today is very similar to the weather that day. And I’m outside, just like I was that day when Dad called to tell me Mom fell down and that the EMTs told him she likely had a cardiac arrest and that she was on transport to the hospital.

Crap. Now I’m remembering how I fell apart in my brother’s best friends’ arms when I saw him. I just … completely lost it. There’s something about this guy: I’ve known him since I was 15 and he knew Mom so well; on a lark they took a couple community college classes together; I’m so glad she had him to hang out with because things were so hard for me with her. Anyway, seeing him pretty much undid me. Memories are strong; I was late to picking up Thing 3 just now because I was swept back up in those heady posthumous days.

So those are the people who will get the notes. It’s good and it will be good for me to send them now. Immediately after Mom died, was school, then my birthday, grief and more grief. Then Thing 3’s birthday and Thanksgiving, then Christmas, then Thing 2’s birthday, then Charlie, then our frigid winter and yoga certification, and then yoga teaching and more grief. The pressure, quite frankly, to write any note has been hard for me. I simply couldn’t wrap my arms around the point of it. But now I see the point of it, and it’s good.

Thank you.

Grief: Remembering Mimi


I received an email this morning from a wonderful woman I’ve never met, but with whom I share a sad fact: we both lost our mothers last year, within six weeks of each other. I “met” this woman after reading her post on Elephant Journal where she wrote about preparing for her mother’s imminent death. I had to write to her, fresh from my mom’s own departure to tell her how her essay had touched me.

She and I write back and forth now, with greater calm than we did in our earlier days. I am so grateful for her friendship and her trust in me this morning.

I didn’t have that “luxury”: to prepare for my mother’s death.

It’s hard to determine who has it easier: those who prepare for the crescendo of their loved one leaving soon or those who have no clue and it just hits them like a grand piano. In either case the crashing music resonates for days, months… and I suppose, years.

Mom died on September 2, 2013. It’s been almost eight months. Some days are easier than others, but then some days just suck.

I try to stay strong, be upbeat for my boys and smile for people I encounter. None of it is real or false. It just is. I recognize the dangers in existing too long in either emotional state.

Today, my oldest son is 16. He and Mom, “Mimi” as she was called, had a special bond. She stayed with him every day for a year when I went back to work. My relationship with Mom was complicated. We had vastly different views on life and how to live it. I wanted more for her than she seemed to have wanted for herself. I also needed more of her than she was able to give.

My oldest son said to me with no weight other than truth the other day, “I wish I’d spent more time with Mimi.” Instantly, I felt a pang of heat and ache and my heart shrivel a bit, for I knew it was my choice that we didn’t spend so much time together; as I said, Mom was complicated.

I resisted the urge to rise to defensiveness. I resisted the urge to tell him she was difficult and complex. I nodded instead and said, “I do too,” which was the truth.

We can’t undo the things we’ve done. We can repent and repeal and revise and reinvent, but I refuse to do all that too. This is the life I’ve made for myself based on the framework, experiences, and tools I was given.

My friend’s email took me by surprise this morning, I was so glad to see it.

“Five months today,” she wrote. “I miss her so much,” she closed. Two sentences.

I got it. I wrote back with this,

She used to call at the most inopportune times, dinner blitz, school blitz, practice blitz… Just to hear my voice. She would mostly just listen on the other end, hang there, say nothing just to get a sense of the frenzy and live it a little. She would leave voicemails, “Call when it’s conveeeenient,” she would almost sing into the microphone.I used to think of her hanging on to listen as strange, creepy and weird; something I’d never ever do. She said her own mother used to do the same to her; “You don’t have to say anything,” she said she’d say. “Just Be There….”

The other day I had to listen to a voicemail cue itself up, I waited with great anticipation, almost ready to roll my eyes, because I was certain it would be her, calling, leaving a message. 

No. It wasn’t her. There was no call from Mom and there will never be another call from her again.

I get it.

And so my eyes well up, my throat thickens, my nose reddens and begins to water, my breathing deepens and I catch myself really missing my mom. So in some vain, feckless way, to bring her back, to let her sit here with me, I’ll share some other things she used to do …

When my father would drive, and she considered it too fast, instead of stating it, she would make this odd noise, “Yieelllll…. Doug…” and somehow he knew that meant to slow down. To which he would usually reply, “Jeez, Meem, willya?” and she’d say, “Fer Cripessake, Doug.”

When she would drive, which she hated to do and I don’t think she got her license until she was 40, she would veer to the right and degrade to an achingly slow pace whenever oncoming traffic was headed in our direction. This move was also accompanied by the “Yieeellll….yuuullle” sound.

She would break out into song in her best Danny Kaye, “Make ’em laugh! Make ’em laugh!” or shout out “The show must go on, Kid!”

Once she made a pot roast that I think was cured in a salt mine for months before she dared put it in an oven. My inner cheeks haven’t yet recovered. Baking was simply not her thing.

She would seldom look at the lens in photographs. Always away, just off center for some reason. She considered it theatrical, I suppose. It drove me nuts. For a while in my mid-20s I decided to mimic her, for spite. She never caught on or likely admired the practice.

She made amazing tomato sauce, like a puttanesca that was to die for. I remember smelling it very late at night when she would cook it while the rest of us were supposed to be asleep. I remember sneaking down the stairs and wedging the spindles between my eyes to spy on her eating while she watched a Columbo on television. The glow from the set that she sat about five feet from created a midnight silhouette which prevented my sleep and was often the last thing I’d see before eventually drifting off. She was always a mystery to me.

She used to put hot chili peppers on pizza, not the nicest tack, thus ensuring the children wouldn’t indulge (it’s a memory!).

I remember one Easter Sunday when it must’ve snowed in Buffalo. She hid all our baskets in different locations in our Victorian home’s myriad nooks and crannies. I found mine, or I recall vividly someone’s basket being hidden in the flour bin. I remember going back there for years to see if there was any candy left behind. That was where she stored a lot of her drawings. Mom was not a baker.

Cashmere. Always wearing cashmere and scarves. Big prescription sunglasses. Very in the mode of fashion in the 70s and then always classic after that.

She could play piano by ear with frightening accuracy.

She and my dad would sing as Dad played some honky-tonk song on the piano. They also sang, “He’s a Tramp” and I remember my body curling up with girlish pride and enthusiasm every time they did it. “Again! Again!” I remember asking.


She had several gorgeous floor-length kilts she would wear to balls and galas with my dad; he’d be in a three-piece suit or tuxedo and off they’d dash to their event, the most elegant couple of all.

This is typical of my parents' in their shots of just them. He's likely talking about politics and she's not.

This is typical of my parents’ in their shots of just them. He’s likely talking about politics and she’s not.


She used to color her hair by herself. It was often a disaster. “Ashen blonde” was her Clairol color of choice and I remember smelling the chemicals and then waiting to see what she’d done to herself. She was a naturally platinum-haired beauty, but like me, didn’t like the idea of looking “old” with her natural color. One time her hair came out the shade of eggplant. Another avocado. Sometimes it was umber. And never in a linear sense: it was a tapestry of bad home hair color jobs. She pretended not to care, but I know it bugged her. She was preoccupied with her looks in a way that for me, a modest glance at a hallway mirror makes me feel as though I’ve turned into Narcissus.

On Christmas, we would have to wait for her to rise for opening gifts. It was difficult, terribly difficult for us children to wait on Christmas morning for Mom. She would also urgently and passionately insist that we not tear into the gifts and untape them in an orderly fashion. That was also really hard. I often failed at it. As I grew up, I resented the entire Christmas experience.

Visits to restaurants were always an adventure. Mom would take the waiter hostage and reengineer the menu, order her pasta al denté (which ensured fresh pasta) and always ordered her Coke without ice, despite the numerous free refills provided. Mom loved food; she married a man who loves it and loves to talk about it and how to cook it. They were made for each other that way.

My parents and aunts & uncles and our cousins would always shut down the restaurants, usually to the chagrin of the staff and us children. If not asleep on the carpeted floor under the skirted sink in a bathroom, we could be found in a coat closet, on a bench somewhere in the establishment, or were still awake bending the silverware, or making ketchup and pepper-based potions under the tables.

Easters at the Buffalo Yacht Club always consisted of whatever food they served (often we would order “chicken in a basket” which was a fried drumstick and thigh, a biscuit and some provision of green vegetable or carrot wheels) followed by sitting on the large leather chairs in front of the Club’s 19″ RCA color TV on a rack with casters to watch either “The Ten Commandments” or “The Wizard of Oz.” Sometimes we could see a storm front come in over the lake from Canada and the boys would rush over to the “weather station” which would hum with barometer needles riding on a spool of graph paper.

Our kitchen phone had a very long curly line between the base and the receiver and I remember that if I couldn’t ever find Mom when I was looking for her, to look for the phone line and follow it. Usually it led to her sitting at the kitchen table or somewhere in the back hall by our basement stairs (which were always scary unless my brother said it was time to go to the BatCave, which he created out of our coal-room basement) looking for something to eat or cook… or maybe hiding… something I’ve become savvy to doing when I’m on a call that simply can’t be interrupted for anything but a natural or man-made disaster of epic proportions.

Tape recordings. Mom used to tape record us all the time; often without us knowing, just to hear us on tape I guess when we weren’t around. She also would tape record herself reading a sonnet or play or poem or essay. Mom preferred the past; it was easier for her, she could fashion it as it was or in a way that brought her comfort. The present must’ve been too much for her and the future? Forget about it.

Without fail, she would call the very next day to thank me for hosting her the night before. Even though she had said too many times to count, how wonderful a time she was having or “thank you” as she worked her eventual way to the car.

Goodbyes were impossible for her. She refused to utter the words. Hanging up from a phone call was terribly hard for her and I remember many times that I’d become furious or impatient because I simply couldn’t get off the phone. I simply couldn’t just do the right thing, say, “Good-bye” like normal people. It was always so hard.

“Don’t say goodbye, birdie. Just say, ‘I’ll see you later.’ Ok?” she would insist.

I’ll see you later, Mom. I really miss you.


Thank you.


Thanksgiving Leftovers / Wrap-Up and What’s to Come: 30 Days of Brené Brown


Hello! I hope everyone in the U.S. enjoyed their Thanksgiving holiday.

It has been a while since I’ve written anything regularly. The last series I wrote with any daily dedication was the 30 Days of Jung where I took a quote of his and did my lay-person best to make sense of it while sitting in my cheap seats. I had a great time with that series and considered myself developing somewhat of a niche: the self-effacing, occasionally humorous psychology nut.

I fancy myself a writer and I love to do what all great writers say to do in order to become a great writer: read great writers. I love reading other writers, I love writing about them, I love imagining how they decided to come up with that phrasing and how I feel so merely mortal when I read it.

Because my life radically changed on Labor Day when my mom died, I fell off the writing horse, so to speak, in terms of being my old self; partly because I felt my old self was gone. One of the ballasts of my old self had died. In short: I was exquisitely lost, but I knew I needed to write about it. So I did.

Then I started to feel self conscious, as though all I was writing about was grief, and Mom and me and grief. I didn’t want to be a downer. So I changed my tune, perhaps a little too early or perhaps even announcing that I was changing my tune was something I shouldn’t have done. (More about my penchant / need for intention / purpose soon.) I regretted it almost immediately: that I shared my decision to stop writing about my grief, but I also knew that I needed to shift gears. I didn’t want to ignore it but I also didn’t want to focus on it.

It was all so hard. Is so hard.

Which brings me to right now.

I loved the Jung series. I feel it prepared me for the yoga retreat which ultimately prepared me for Mom’s death (I’ve written about that dovetailing in a post called “Wahe Guru“). The Jung series was regular, predictable, something I could count on being there, so I find myself needing and wanting that anchor again. So now, I’m going to start 30 Days of Brené Brown, whom is a modern-day philosopher of sorts. She is my “if you could have dinner / evening out with anyone you don’t know who would it be…” -person.

As with Jung, I selected the quotes as ranked on Goodreads by readers whom I believe highlighted the quotes in the books on their ereaders which were then uploaded onto Goodreads because Amazon owns Goodreads and everything between Uranus and the Degobah system (apologies to George Lucas). Each per-quote write-up will be in the neighborhood of 1,200 words (don’t ask why 1,200; it seems to be the point at which I start to run out of gas and I think you do too). I am picking 30 Days because well, why not?

This is “Day 0” — where I’m letting you know. It’s almost 10:00 pm where I live so I don’t plan on writing via Brené tonight although I can’t wait to get started. I also don’t want to jump right into this without sharing a little about my Thanksgiving, as I’m guessing both of you are curious about how it went this first time without Mom. It went well. It was momentarily bittersweet and graciously easy. We seem, as a tribe, to be navigating these waters with relative steadiness and patience for one another.

My brothers and I all recognize that we all had different “versions” of Mom, just as how my sons will have different versions of me based on our chemistry and relationships (although my relative health and awareness is vastly different from Mom’s to my brothers and myself).

In the early stages of our grief it felt to me that we clung to our various versions of her as though they were buoys. I am the middle child and I’ve got four years between my brothers and myself, so even those four years create quite a crevasse in her own personal development, any major challenges notwithstanding. Everything I have read about birth order and timing of children suggests that a span of four years or more between the children creates a space where each child is virtually an only child in terms of parenting attitude, fatigue and sibling relations. That theory was both myth and truth in those first posthumous days. I’d never felt closer to my brothers in those first days while at the same time I felt very separate.

While I was fiercely drawn to them both, I was reluctant, to tolerate either of their versions of her. I accepted the notion that there could be different versions, but I didn’t want to debate them or hear about them. I felt it was essential that everyone see her as I saw her, which (especially in those first days) was completely as the flawed saint and alternately undefinable. As time wore on, and we shared with each other more, the different versions became as real as the differences in our own persons. Mom occupied the same body, but she was in different places with us energetically.

This Thanksgiving holiday was the first time we were all together again since Mom’s funeral. For me, it had an almost challenge-like vibe: “We Will Get Through This 2013” — I should have made t-shirts. I was girded for anything and that girding was unnecessary. Having an adorable drunken-sailor -esque toddler bounce about the house wielding my sons’ various light sabers and make his own sound effects on top of the ones the sabers already make was a definite spirit lifter.


For me, it was nice, especially to have everyone in my house. Even though we have the world’s smallest kitchen, I loved it. Coming from a place of mental preparation helped too because I was ready for the “break” from the confusing drama and the heavy emotions that so often accompanied major holidays in my family: for so many years, the attention and energy were sucked away by fear and confusion over Mom’s condition. This year, we could focus and  share and enjoy each other equally throughout the long weekend — that was a first and at times it was for me a little disorienting, but welcome nonetheless. We are all a little crazy, as both of my brothers have said to me and each other since Mom died. We have our quirks and unmet needs and we will always do our dances around each other; that’s natural — dysfunction or not — but there was no heaviness or fear.

As I pulled away from my brother and his team at the airport today, I caught a glimpse of my beautiful niece looking back at me in my car and we smiled and I waved hesitantly, I wasn’t sure she saw me so my hand went down as soon as it went up. A lump formed in my throat for her because I realized what was happening: they were going home and I already missed her, I missed them all.

In the final analysis: Mom gave us to each other as siblings and we figured it out somehow. The next thing we did was find impeccable mates, some of the strongest people in the world for our weirdnesses individually and collectively — they loved us enough to marry us, knowing where we came from. No one is perfect, but we’re good with that.

So the first Brené Brown entry will start tomorrow, December 2. I hope I will hear from some of you in the comments section. I often say that the comments areas to me are where some really great conversations can be had. It’s a real treat for me to be able to exchange ideas with you.

Thank you.

Grief: Relief and Release


It has been 12 weeks since Mom died and I’ve written about it here as the mood has suited me and I’m grateful that those missives have been tolerated by you guys.

I’m in a good space right now and I’d likely chalk it up to the impending Thanksgiving rush but I’m not so sure because I’m not really overwhelmed by The Holiday. Then comes Christmas and the new year.

While the coming celebrations will have challenging moments for us as tribe, they will also be experienced in completely new territory for me anyhow in terms of emotional and psychic (mental) space.

Holidays and celebrations for me were not easy.

When you live your entire life with a troubled someone who occupies an equally troubled space in your heart and your mind, that space becomes a third “person” so to speak. It becomes a shadow, an entity, a space — something you end up welcoming (not really) to the “table” because there is no way to avoid it other than via a total divorce. No one was willing to do that in our family; I can speak for myself that I clung feverishly to a hope that Mom would repair.

I state all of this with as much detachment as possible. I am void of judgment or of complaint. I am bothering to share this because of the simple fact that I know a few people whose parents have deceased this year, some after my own mother, and I want them to know this: it’s OK to feel a release or allow yourself relief that you don’t have to worry about them anymore. If you are grieving the loss of a person whose slow and protracted illness and caregiving occupied your mind and or body, or like me the sudden and earth-rocking loss of someone whose death was completely unforseen at least in the near term but in either case whose existence was tied to attendance in your life, it’s OK to be OK with the release of the worry.  Really, it’s OK. This is part of the process. We can exhale now. Be OK.

As I said, holidays and celebrations were not easy. That third “space” or “person” was fear or guilt or shame or sadness and hope over my mother’s state and her condition. For all my life, at least as much as I can recall, I was always concerned about my mother. Shouldn’t it have been the other way around? Shouldn’t it? Since when is it a child’s duty to be occasionally charged or routinely in a passive state of being “on patrol” over its parent? She never asked help of me, though, it was just implicit. Frequently though she would say that I was a help to her, and if you’re a kid, you know that when you hear you’re being a helper you keep it up.

Living like that does shit to you. (Oops, I said I was void of complaint — but I really am, this is mostly reporting.)

Things were constantly such that worrying about her sobriety, safety, condition, whereabouts, status and then in the later years adding on her care, upkeep, attendant anxieties, predilections, tendencies and any other mechanism that revealed itself was a standard way of life. Even when we weren’t together, she was on my mind. I’ve stated this dozens of times. I have no regrets about caring about her although it did tax our relationship considerably. Last Easter was the first holiday I hosted at my home where I did not include my parents in any of the events. It was an emotionally difficult decision to make, but my father’s withholding of contact with me made it feasible and to me appropriate and healthy.

I would by lying if I didn’t wonder what they did for Easter. I had to hold my space; I had to grow up a bit.

So this year, it will be odd. We will be one space short at the table and two spaces lighter in my mind. The mental space has already started to happen, a fog is lifting. It’s like watching a ghost pack up its stuff: vigilance, fear, anxiety, woe, regret, anger and who knows what else that it has strewn about your psyche and heart, and put it into boxes to be taken away and to never return. I have observed the lightening of this space in an increased interest in my own family and domestic affairs — I kid you not! — I have had “attachment and brain fatigue” discussions and exercises over items in my home and I’ve unearthed several hundreds of pounds of items for charity. I’ve been able to attend to my family in ways I did before but with the presence of gratitude and love rather than a sense of obligation and “chore” that I’d had before. I was given my family that I created instead of the one I came from.

My mental clarity can best be described as like a “system defrag” back in the days of MS-Windows hard drive management. It’s like I couldn’t actually release the concern I had over my mother until she was actually and finally at true and undeniable somatic peace.

It didn’t come easily for either of us though — it took her death, and because I’m a truth seeker I suppose there is a lesson in it that is deeper than the obvious: nothing is in my control and I should occupy myself with the things that I can change (Serenity Prayer, anyone?). I accept the high-level lesson for now. Maybe that’s all there is to know.

A few people have inquired about my father: he is OK, managing and keeping busy. He’s a “bootstrapper” and has generally never had a hard time regarding himself. We went to a Mass of Remembrance last week and we tend to get together about every week. I will say no more; the rest belongs to him. He is making the stuffing for Thursday. That is some good stuffing.

Aha — I do know this: there is nothing I have to do at all about any of it. My ego can let go, or I can punt it, and its illusion that I had any semblance of influence over any of the affairs of my mother’s. It’s a tough thing to do: admit your impotence over the most important, first influence in your life.

Sigh. Sniffle.

Thanksgiving is basically here. Today my husband and I will bring up our spare table and chairs. After we drop off Thing 1’s forgotten gym uniform at school, we will go get the plastic flutes for the kids’ sparkling grape juice. I will find the extra salt & pepper sets and get them out. I will enlist my youngest son to make the place cards when he comes home. I will let him command the kid’s table and I will breathe a sigh of relief as I release my anxiety, my “third person” and be OK with it. I am ironically sad to see her go…

Mom, I’m sorry you had to go to teach me to finally let you live the way you chose. To finally get me to back off.

Happy thanksgiving to all of you; if you are wondering if you have any control over anything besides your own personal choices, take great peace and liberty in knowing the answer is: Absolutely Not.

Thank you.