The phone call is never expected even though it's not totally unexpected.
When the phone rang this morning, I thought it was Christine who was out shopping, calling to check if we needed one thing or another, but instead it was a hospice nurse at the nursing home telling me my mother had passed away.
I'd planned on a visit today. She cycled back into not knowing me a while ago, but I've tried to go and sit with her a while on weekends, thinking there must be some virtue even in sharing stories of my life that didn't register.
She was 41 when I was born so she'd already lived a half a lifetime. Her father died when she was a year old, and my grandmother supported the family as a seamstress and somehow they made it through the Depression and the home front of World War II.
The youngest in her family, she was educated with the help of siblings and became a school teacher just after World War II.
She was headstrong and unwavering at times, but always giving and devoted to helping others, caring for my grandmother until her last breath.
She taught mostly home economics, some English. Aside from my dad's imagination, that's where what I do comes from, I suppose. There was always Shakespeare in the house and Steinbeck.
She was a seamstress like her mother and taught a host of students to cook and sew. A few years ago when we had to go through her things I found some labels purchased from a mail order catalog -- This Garment Made by Mildred Williams. I don't know how many she used over the years.
I thought three Christmases ago she'd reached her last but she held on a while longer.
As the hospice nurse put it this morning she reached a point where she just couldn't bounce back.
I wish I could write more eloquently about her, about what she did, about things she created, but the eloquence will come later, I suppose. For now it just seems important to note her days and that she is resting at last, freed from the clouded thoughts and brittle bones that had become her prison.
There's consolation in that, that she is at rest at last.