Saturday, August 13, 2011


We're on day ??? of an ongoing vigil for Mom.  She's been in a coma, probably since last Saturday. Her blood pressure is so low they can't detect it with the arm band.  Dad was alone with her during the day, because the usual nurse couldn't be there, so that's the latest update I have.  I spent a good portion of my afternoon hunting down information for submitting obituaries - because we've lived practically everywhere, I'm looking at papers in Texas, Missouri, and New York.  For the most part, every paper has a different policy, and some of the policies aren't just spelled out online.  You have to call to get rates, or the rates aren't available until you're ready to submit.

You know, I'm a capitalist and usually fairly unapologetic about it, but the profit-making schemes built around weddings, births, and funerals really make me sick.

Last night, I finished a book called The Wilder Life, by Wendy McClure.  This is a really recent publication, and I scored it in hardcover early on because I've just completed my second re-read of the Little House (Laura Ingalls Wilder) books in two years.  We found my long-lost set in a box uncovered when my parents moved last summer, and I have been retracing my childhood through them ever since.  McClure's book is about a similar experience.  While I have not gone to the lengths she did (though I had a bit of adventure by accident in 2008), I still recognize myself in her pages.  Laura Ingalls was a childhood friend; more than that, I feel like I lived an entirely separate existence through her descriptions of nomadic prairie life.  McClure describes her attempts to "find" her Laura World and, perhaps, herself through the books, the places where Laura lived, and the activities and accoutrements of 19th century living.  

What I found particularly interesting was the fact that Wendy McClure did all of this, and rediscovered the books herself, just as her mother was fading and ultimately succumbing to cancer.  I put the book down rather hastily when I read that late last night, and almost didn't finish the book.  You see, while there is not a lot about my Laura experiences that tie back to my mother, the very fact that I read the books at all is a direct byproduct of being my mother's daughter.  Read, read, read.  Books were the thing, the really big thing, that Mom and I had in common.  And the Little House books, and Laura Ingalls Wilder, were my go-to books as a kid, my well-worn and dog-eared books.  What Wendy McClure wrote couldn't have been more timely for me to read.  I felt like I had read something I might have written.  That is an extremely eerie feeling.

In writing my mother's obituary, and contemplating her eulogy, over and over again I realize that I don't have a great idea of what to say.  Who was my mother, really?  She was never one to talk much about such things.  In the last few years before her diagnosis, our conversations revolved around recipes and meal-planning for visits.  There wasn't much we seemed to want (need?) to say.  I find myself now filled with questions.  The woman I am remembering and writing about was a mother, yes.  What else was she?  This lingers.

I understand the searching.  I need to know more about myself, too, and what my life is going to be when she is truly gone.  When we can't gather around a hospital bed for Christmas morning any more than we can gather round a Christmas tree Mom herself decorated.  

The Wilder Life touched something in me, prodded a bruise that I didn't know I had.  

What next.  I keep thinking.

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