Last night, at some point in the middle of it, I officially became older than my mother.
My mom, known to her family and friends as Margaret or "Mugs", died of breast cancer on August 6th, 1969 at the age of 47. I was 10 years old.
Although I don't remember much of her, I do vividly remember parts of her illness, and the morning she died.
It was very hot in Milwaukee that August. My mom's illness had progressed and she had been bedridden for most of the summer. The cancer that had started in her breast spread to other organs, including her lungs. She ultimately had to have a tracheotomy, which was supposed to help her breathe, but would clog with mucus causing more coughing and problems. Little by little, she withered away.
My grandmother came to live with us that summer to help my dad out. That particular weekend in August, my mom's favorite sister, Sharon, came up from Illinois with my two cousins. Our house was full of people. My sister Tina, then 5, and I had to sleep in a bedroom that was in a part of the house that must not have been insullated very well. It was hotter than heck in that room. I didn't sleep well that night. I remember waking up in the middle of the night and hearing a lot of commotion down stairs. I was too tired to get up so I just rolled over and went back to sleep.
The next morning, my dad woke me up. He had Tina with him and he picked her up and put her on his lap. I knew right then. He said "Your mother passed away last night. I'm sorry". I just laid there looking at him and looking at Tina. In an instant, every thing changed.
Zoom ahead one year, five years, ten...move forward twenty, thirty and now thirty seven. Might as well be 1,000 years for all I can remember and for all that I have missed.
I've had a lot of mixed feelings about this particular day, when I'd pass my mother in age. IF I'd pass it by. For years, I thought that her fate was my fate -- that I'd get cancer and be dead already. I'm not alone having that type of thought, I know. Many people who have lost a parent fear that they will come to the same early end.
But I did make it past her time -- albeit only by a few hours now. I'm hoping that those hours will stretch in to days and months and years....leaving me to die peacefully an old woman.
Very melancholy blog enter, I know. I've been moody for the past couple of weeks and pretty sad about this date. I'm (still) angry that she died and angrier that I don't remember her. I'm sad that she's not here and that she -- and I -- and Tina -- missed so much.
I'm not so idealistic that I believe, had she not gotten cancer and lived, that we would have had this perfect mother/daughter thing. I just would have liked the chance to have experienced it, instead of looking at it through the lens of an outsider observing my friends with their mothers. Or my friends as Mothers with their children.
Anyway, for what ever reason(s) that was not meant to be. It was just sort of a hard day and I guess I just wanted to acknowledge that along with the woman I never really knew.