The Long Goodbye is a ‘neo-noir‘ movie and is EXACTLY what I’ve been doing since May 2014. I didn’t know it then, but those weeks were the opening scenes. Mom was the main character, I was a strong supporting actress and changed the most. My neighbor said this is what I’ve been doing, saying goodbye for a while. She is right.
I came to Alaska that spring because of a comment a friend made. I’d mentioned I rarely came home since dad died and he asked me why. I could not answer! Completely dumbfounded, I made my first foray north since February 2006. I didn’t stay very long that summer. Mum seemed to have most of her oars in the water, usually! We did a few excursions and I wish I’d pushed her to do more. I do remember the septic was being horrible and was dug up and replaced by something like a crib. The next year I arrived after Memorial Day and stayed til October. That was the year of the sewer flood. When the kid reversed the flow, pumping 22 hundred gallons of raw sewage INTO mum’s basement instead of sucking it out of the holding area. That was truly a memorable summer. (Shudder!) My whole family came north to help sort and work for a week. They took back so much stuff, including several jukeboxes and the Mercury (which is going to a car show this first full weekend in September.). I ended up leaving in October. It took that long to get mom’s stuff from the containers in the yard back into the house. I think that was the summer she finally changed her will to have me be the executor (I had no idea what that would mean, but I am so glad it was my job and not Gigman’s-my BiL!).
I didn’t go north in 2016 til mid-July. I waited til The Craftsman’s birthday was over and then flew home. Mum had started chemo that May and wasn’t doing quite as well as she thought she might. (in all her years of colon cancer and breast cancer, she’d never gone through chemotherapy. She had radiation for those, but not chemotherapy). We also had a brand spanking new septic system. That summer was ridiculous hard. I finally was able to get her to sign papers for me to become her Power of Attorney, they were dated wrong, but gods…the darn things had been sitting waiting for her signature for MONTHS! I knew mom was sick, she kept having delusions of what she wanted instead of what she could have. (She did that til the day she died.) Doctors seemed to ignore her and my frustrations. Everyone insisted mom was ‘fine’. (I HATE that word)
I left for Oregon in mid-October again. I flew back home November 3, 2016. I stayed with mom in the hospital for weeks. This was when we realized the POA papers were wrong. This is when I got a tiny inkling that my goodbye was going to be full of responsibility. I have to admit, I am thankful mom hung on as long as she did. I grew up a great deal, but I also got tons done that may not have been as easy if she’d not been alive.
This is also when my blogging worlds came to my rescue. My followers (I had no idea I’d get any, I was so stressed and upset and tied up in things I didn’t understand. I just wrote!) became friends, some of you very good friends. My live friendships touched on me now and then, you sustained me. For more than two years you have encouraged and lifted me up in every facet of my new normal. A normal I’d no idea was even possible. Each day I was certain mom was going to go, each day brought experiences that showed me how ridiculous mom’s life had been before I stepped in, and each day mom resented her loss of complete independence.
On September 3 of 2018, (photo in jacket is August of ’18) I brought mom home from the hospital. Again. I know she went back on the 8th, but for some strange reason I have little in the way of photographs or even notes during the month of September 2018 about mom. I’ve looked in all my blogs, my photographs, my journal entries….I didn’t look at any of the emails and texts I sent and haven’t deleted yet!! It appears she was only home for 5 days. That was the week she burned up her microwave and I had to buy a new one she absolutely hated, partly cuz she had not chosen it! (I admit, I’m not fond of it either. It cooks too hot!!!)
After her death, I had to plan her memorial service, Jake was too busy to help much. That was when the septic went out again and it needed dug up. That was when I discovered what a freaking money pit this house was. I’m so thankful I had gotten it paid off and that she died after the taxes were due on it! I’m also glad she put it in my name, I’d hate to try to juggle repairs and bills with someone else. I started going through her things then..
Which leads me to this year. I put some of mom’s ashes in the lake on Saturday. The last of the ashes I have here will go on the Homer Spit in a few weeks. My sister wants to shoot her from a potato cannon. I just want to spread her. It will be a very fast trip up and back. Jake can’t take much time off for that since she took her entire week off to help me with getting mum’s sale ready and doing the sale (not exactly true. She was here on Tuesday afternoon for 2 hours, Wednesday about 3 hours, Thursday about 3 hours, Friday she was here from 830-3, and on Saturday about 2 hours. I guess it was a lot. She had to take care of her family, animals, and had a spouse date on Thursday night at a super fancy place, as well!)
Anyway, it has been a long goodbye. I’m the not so bouncy core in ball of tired wrapped up in thankful with a dinged up coating of WTF? (that coating is purple by the way) This was a long post—but it does sum up 5 plus years of a past leading into an uncertain present. I don’t know what I’m going to do yet. I’ve no idea how to pay for this house over the winter, but not rushing to get it ready to leave by mid-October was a restful decision. I’m so damn tired of making decisions, not being able to eat our cuz I’m tired of rice cakes and eggs, not being able to do errands cuz it is too expensive to go anywhere, and being surrounded by clutter that does NOT seem to vanish!!!
I am making progress of a sort. Donating is looking better and better, although I sincerely need the money. I think I have enough to do exactly what needs done, for now, so why want more? As Mary Poppins said, ‘Enough is as good as a feast.’ Even if I’d love more jam with my bread/rice cakes and tea. (Laughing, same actress, different nanny!) I’m more than thankful for the hope and encouragement of all of you and knowledge that somewhere there will be an end to this particular journey. Someday….