I was talking to one of my sisters, in November, just before what would have been my mother’s 89th birthday, on the phone – it’s easy to go 90 minutes. We noted the odd dysfunction that seems to take place when the Greens all got together, from missing a wedding we all traveled to in 1991, to the fight on my parents’ anniversary in 1995, to the return of my father’s black cloud in 1997, and I could go on, and on…
It was weird, then, to note that there was no particular drama when my mother died. I mean, her death was relatively sudden (stroke on a Friday, died on the following Wednesday) and heartbreaking and all that. But it wasn’t complicated to arrange.
Initially, I thought that, because we had gone through the process sorting out whether my father would be cremated (he was) and where he would be buried (in a military cemetery 40 miles from Charlotte, NC) that this made the decisions of what to do with mom easier. And of course, it was.
But I also think that, with her gone, we were all orphan adults, the folks of the oldest generation of our tiny tribe and that we gave each other room to grieve in our own particular way, without trampling on someone else’s space.
My mother, who was an only child, would constantly go on when we were kids about how we shouldn’t fight and should get along. She did have cousins she loved in her city of Binghamton, not too far away. The boy is Raymond, who was born 10 years and a day after my mom; he died two decades ago. Frances was three years younger and still alive. But those relationships were not quite the same thing.
Because fight my sisters and I did, even into adulthood. It has only recently occurred to me that we have outgrown whatever sibling rivalries, maybe because there’s no parent to take OUR side. It’s a bit sad that it took her passing to get to that place, but there it is. Not that we don’t have issues, still, but we have no parent to curry favor with.
Six years since mom died, the first and only person to date that I ever saw die. THAT wasn’t easy.