Wednesday, March 2, 2011

A Mother's Grief

About a week after Rick had died, my mom and I were sitting in the living room chatting.   She looked at me and said, “Jane, you marry whomever you want to, don’t listen to anyone.”  “Mom,” I yelled, “his body isn’t even cold in the grave!  She said, “I know, honey; I just want you to know that whatever you decide to do in the future, it’s up to you.  Don’t listen to anyone else.”

“Okay, Mom, where is all of this coming from?”  I asked.  “When your father died, everyone had their opinions about what I should do.  Peepop wanted to take care of us but I never really got along with him and I didn’t want to be under his care.  There were loads of people to offer advice but not a lot of people there to help.  Your Aunt Rose had said when I had married your dad that if Uncle Tom ever died, she would marry Dad (Jack).  He would never in a million years even consider going out with her.  Dad (Jack) was the one who was there to help me.  He was the one to take care of us because Jimmy was his brother.  He was having a hard time with the grief and it helped him to be around us.  It was the most natural thing that he asked me to marry him,” she explained.

"Peepop (my grandfather) was furious and thought that it 'looked terrible' for Jack to propose to me.  If I had listened to them, we never would have married.  It was what God planned for us.  Peepop refused to go to the wedding and forced Nanny(my grandmother) to stay at home even though she wanted to be there.  It wasn’t a good time,” she said.  “I want you to know that I’m behind whatever you decide and know that it is your decision.”  I was a flabbergasted, Okay, mom but to tell you the truth I’m not quite up to that yet.  I’ll be happy just to make it through the year.

I didn’t know anyone who had been widowed at forty.  It was difficult to know that what I was feeling was normal.  People that knew me had no idea what to say to me.  I found myself trying to make my friends feel comfortable with me.  Many people would ask me how I was doing and I would begin to cry.  I am quite literal; if you ask me that question I presume you are really looking for an answer.  “I made you cry.” I would hear over and over.  I tried to explain, “You didn’t make me cry; death is sad and hard to take.  I think there are a certain number of tears that have to fall before I won’t cry”

Over the weeks that my mom was with me, she shared many stories that I had never heard before.  She was widowed at 29 and she had walked through grief.  She had four children and had to survive for us.  Listening to her stories made me stronger;  I knew I would make it through this to the other side.  These were stories that I don’t think I would have ever heard under other circumstances. My mom shared her most precious gift; she shared her life, her memories, her love and her loss.

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