Thursday, May 11, 2006

May 11, 2006

We had a gathering at our home today to mark my mother's death. From the first knock on the door, the first guest, my tears finally began to flow. I had been numb. After months of being with her day and night, yes, sleeping in her room, it struck me as terribly unreal that she was gone. But when people came to pay their respects, I understood. The house was beautiful with flowers, I shined the silver, and there were crystal and gemstone colored glass dishes full of food. Neighbors came, friends, my brothers business contacts, and so many people from Hospice found the time to come by. My Dad made a lovely speech and I read a piece I'd written for my Mom on her 82 birthday, two years ago. The guests have been gone for hours now, and my tears have stopped again, but I understand they will come back. My eyes will fill; I am not a dry-eyed monster. I loved her so much, and know I will miss her, but until today, I couldn't cry. I'm grateful that a party like so many Mom prepared for anxiously, and enjoyed wonderfully, happened today in her beautiful house, and some of my tears were released at last.

Monday, May 08, 2006



Wear your grief like soft silk;
a shimmering air-light cloak
against your skin, barely felt.
But, when the transparent
blue dusk and the north star shines alone,
perception loosens, solitude releases,
wear the purple velvet of queens and kings.
Let it drag against limbs and feel the heaviness
rounding your shoulders until you reach
full stop and must wait for the velvet to journey
through brocade, damask, satin, lace.
It will again become
weightless silk and
return to the blessed, fine
binding you can carry on with.

Nonnie Augustine
May 7, 2006

Thursday, May 04, 2006

I care as much about Anna Nicole Smith winning her case with the U.S. Supreme Court as I do about dryer lint. My mother will probably die before dawn. The process of dying from congestive heart failure is a long drawn-out business. In her case it started with her heart attack in 2001. For the next two years she still left the house, even drove, but she has been house-bound since 2003 and bed-bound since September of 2005. I have been her full-time caregiver, which is not as noble of me as it may sound, because my own life came to a crashing full-stop when I left my husband and my home in Maryland a year ago. Taking charge of my mother's care was the next best thing I could do. I had no home, no money, and was badly wounded. Mom and my Dad had a home to offer me and needed help as almost all people in their eighties come to need help. I have some money now, because our marital home has been sold, but their physical problems and my emotional troubles have proved to be a good match. While the Web, CNN, and the "real" and tabloid papers have been giving us eyefuls of Anna Nicole, slim and sexy in dark glasses as she struts her stuff in and out of court, my Mother is gasping for breath, her hands are turning blue, and all I can do is administer eye-drops of morphine so that the business of her heart stopping is as quiet for her as possible. She was the best that she could be her whole life. Born in 1922, child of a flapper and a World War I veteran, she had four younger siblings. My grandmother knew all the songs and nursery rhymes any girl could want their "Nonnie" to know, but I gather as a parent she was content to let her oldest daughter take care of the other children. My grandfather became a politician, with some success, but the thirties hit the family hard and they barely kept their household going during the Depression years. In 1942, my Mom and Dad married, in 1943 he went to the European front, and soon after my mother gave birth to my brother. When Dad got back, they had another son, me, and my younger brother. By 1955 we were all born, and she was a full-tilt, wonderful mother, except when unreasonable fears, clinical depression, and fatigue got the better of her and everyone would have to wait until Mom was herself again. Those waits sometimes seemed long, but she always came back to us before her clinical depressions caused severe, or even fatal, damage. She turned 84 a month ago. She and my Dad have been married a couple of months shy of sixty four years. She never had anyone but my father. She was never a stripper. She didn't sell herself to a billionaire, or make a fool of herself on television, or spent a lot of time getting manicures or shopping for clothes. She never did anything that put her on T.V., or got her a hearing in front of the Supreme Court. But when a holiday came around, whether we had money or not, no one in the neighborhood could touch our home for warmth, food, trimmed trees or Easter baskets, and heart-felt celebration. The least I can do is stay up with her until the sun rises.