It’s been a while since I wrote anything at all. I was sicker than usual for a time and ultimately had to undergo vascular surgery at the VA hospital in Miami. I was – and still am – so weak I can barely walk.
Not long after the surgery, my mother died.
I wasn’t surprised. She was 92 years old. She’d been ill and weak. I do wish I’d not been sick so I could have made my way up to Clearwater on Florida’s West Coast to see her one more time before she slipped away. But it didn’t work out that way.
My brother Patrick told me about her death. She told him, he said, she was ready to go. His daughter, Maura, told me my mother had said the same thing. My mother said she was tired. She said she wanted to be with my father who died about a decade ago. "No more," she said. Then she stopped eating and stopped taking her meds.
I can understand. I really can.
It’s easy for me to imagine my mom on her deathbed, quiet, unmoving, her eyes closed. For a time after her death, that’s the way I thought of her. Then I stopped. Now, when I think of her, I remember the last time I saw her, a couple of months ago. We sat at the table in her family room, talking about politics and my work and laughing a lot. She told stories about family in Ireland and friends in Chicago.
The last night I was with her, ready to drive home very early in the morning, we embraced. She kissed my cheek and I kissed hers. We told each other to be safe. "I love you, Mom," I said. She said the same to me. When we pulled apart, I could see her eyes were wet with tears. She smiled and nodded her head. I knew what she was saying with that smile and nod. That’s what I’ll remember.