I got a houseplant yesterday. I little jade plant, more importantly, a succulent. That way it should survive me forgetting about it. When I bought this plant I hadn’t occurred to me that it was Mother’s Day until I was at Ace Hardware and saw a bunch of little kids and dads around the plant section looking at all the plants and flowers. At first I just thought, how sweet, the dads are looking for things to do with their kids. It then hit me that it was Mother’s Day.

You will forgive me if I don’t think about Mother’s Day too often. You see my mom died almost 25 years ago. Somewhere between Christmas and New Years. I can’t remember specifics, not because of how long ago it was but because I can’t say I every really knew. The main reason I can tell you it was after Christmas is because I remember the kids opening presents on Christmas Day and Anji and I trying to be happy for them because we knew it didn’t look good for my mom, Barbara. You see, she had been taken to the emergency room two days before and then immediately put in intensive care. The doctor explained to us that (the patient) had had a brain aneurysm and the longer she went without opening her eyes, the less likely that she would survive.

That then started the game of call everyone. This of course was before texting or Facebook so everything had to be done by talking. Yes it was still the stone age. So, here I am calling people and trying to sound chipper and hopeful while telling people that with each passing minute it was less likely mom would survive. A typical conversation went like this:

“Hi this is Gary. I am letting you know that mom had an aneurysm and while we are still holding out hope but the longer she is unconscious the less likely she will survive.”

“No, it was very unexpected”

“Yes, she is still so young.”

She was only 50.

I would get through about 3 of these phone calls and then I would cry with Anji for a few minutes and start the process over again. The two people who I didn’t try to sound chipper with were my brother, David and my cousin  Kathy. I told my brother he needed to get here now because it didn’t look good and went through everything that was going on as we both cried on the phone. Kathy, poor Kathy, got the worst of it. I could barely talk to her and Anji had to keep getting on the phone and explaining what I was saying. I gave her the dubious honor of calling her mom, Jan, my mom’s older sister and explain to her what was going on. I just couldn’t do it. Jan would be the last surviving member of her family. Her mom, my grandmother had died about 5 years before and her father, my grandfather, died the year before I was born. So, telling Aunt Jan that her little sister, by 8 years, was dying, was more than I could handle.

In my fuzzy memories I swear my Aunt Jan got there within an hour of calling me but in reality it was later that evening. Which was still fast because she had to fly to Spokane, WA and Jan hated flying. She actually flew on a plane and she is scared to death of flying. That really made it hit home. If Jan was flying, this was serious. This made it real. Mom was dying and there was nothing I could do about it.

It became too hard to talk on the phone. Thank god, Anji took that job over because once my cousin knew, all my family knew. Anji and I were getting calls continuously, from family I hadn’t talked to in ages. There was a point where I was talking to Audra, who is the closest cousin in age to me and we were both crying so hard over the phone our spouses each had to take the receivers away from us and started asking the questions that needed to be answered.

So, Christmas Day we opened presents and watched The Nutty Professor, the new version with Eddie Murphy. I’m not French, I can’t stand Jerry Lewis. We ate dinner and silently prayed that things would turn out differently.They didn’t. David got there and mom actually woke up briefly. I was so glad mom got to see him, one last time. David has never been good about keeping in touch and I think that saved him some guilt. Mom got to see David and she smiled. Jan showed up and she got to spend the last couple hours of mom’s life with her. I was so glad she made it. She told stories about the two of them growing up. She was talking to mom, but it made me feel so good to hear these stories. It made it feel like she was still with us.

Finally the prick, I mean doctor, came in and told us she was brain dead. No sugar coating that one. We had been expecting it. Still being told that the person you considered for most of your life, to be one of the smartest people you knew was brain dead….Everything went grey. By that I mean I lost all feeling, I lost all sense of time or place.
And then the organ harvester came in. They needed to know if we were ready to say goodbye. That she was an organ donor and the quicker they could harvest her, the chances of using her organs was better. (They didn’t put it as bluntly, I am sure, but it’s how I remember it).

We were saying our goodbyes when a cunt of a nun came in and said, “you know she is already dead and can’t hear you.”This is when I officially left the church behind. We held the service a couple of days later and sadly the person who was in the bed next to mom had also died and they were having a service at the same time. Misery loves company. I hug them, they hug us. We exchanged numbers to get a hold of each other. Now I couldn’t even tell you their names or how the person had died. So, I think you can infer we never made contact with those people again.

I am sure you are wondering how my train of thought got to this particular station. My mom loved houseplants. She had them everywhere. No matter where she lived there were always houseplants. So without meaning to, I honored my mom on Mother’s Day or maybe my mom guided me there. I don’t know and all that I can say is, I love my mom. I can say this now and mean it without crying and I can remember all the happy times and even some sad times because they are my memories of her and no one can take those away.

Love Gary


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