The morning our mother died, my sister Lindy and I went to Starbucks to re-group. We had no one to comfort us, and the truth was that we wanted to be together by ourselves for this last day of Mother’s life. Mother had passed away peacefully, and my sister and I were both still surprised by that: we had expected her passing to be similar to her life, a struggle to the bitter end.
As we were sitting there, I decided that we should make some phone calls to Mother’s kin to let them know what had transpired. Lindy said:
Let me know how that works out for you.
My first (and as it turned out only) phone call was to Aunt Marty (Mother’s sister). She answered with a cheery hello and when I told her I was so sorry but I had to inform her of Mother’s death that morning, her first reaction was:
Well, she didn’t make it to ninety.
Not exactly the broken up sibling. Then she said:
Uncle Bob is worse off than Mary.
I had trouble picturing that since her sister Mary was dead and their brother Bob was not dead, but it didn’t seem like a good time to argue with her. Finally, she began relating the current difficulties of her children and grandchildren until I said that I had to go.
Once back at the table with Lindy, she asked how everything had gone. But then she said:
Wait. Let me guess: she turned the whole conversation back to herself.
What could I say? She had accurately summarized the whole phone call.
That was the end of our efforts to inform people of our mother’s death. We did write to a few friends. Remember, Mother never had a large number of people who liked her. Some of our Southern kin asked if we were bringing her body down to the small town for burial, but Lindy said that they were just hoping for a free meal at the Country Kitchen.
All in all, the mourning was up to us and we handled it as we usually did: alone but with courage and humor.