My mom, Mary Roush died on the evening of August 27, 2012. On the morning of August 28, 2012, I awoke a motherless daughter. That was seven weeks ago and that's why I haven't published a post in awhile. There was the drop-everything-race-to-Tucson drive to the hospital and then the flying-back-and-forth-to-start-the-Fall-semester, and then the funeral service, and then flying back the next weekend to be with my now-all-alone dad, and then all the usual life demands continued, unwilling to even pause a moment while I sat and cried and grieved and rocked myself on the couch, clutching the pillow, or the dog, or anything at all that might fill my now motherless arms. It has been a time, it has.
My mother was 81. She had survived hip replacement surgeries (one was botched and had to be re-done), back surgery, pneumonia, thrush, MRSA, bladder cancer, and finally bladder removal surgery because the immunotherapy destroyed her bladder. She was finally pain free, cane free, and happily care free. She was volunteering; she performed in a talent show, and she was sponsoring several women through her 12-Step program. She had 44 years as an actively recovering alcoholic. Ten days later, she would have celebrated 61 years of marriage with her husband, my dad, Skip.
How fitting that she was at her usual Saturday morning 12-Step meeting when she experienced sudden severe abdominal pain, passed out and later that afternoon barely survived (flat-lined twice) emergency surgery to repair a perforated bowel. She never awakened - at least not until she reached the Other Side on Monday night. I was with her in the hospital. I held her hand and kissed her forehead and rubbed her feet and stroked her hair. I talked to her, assuring her that everything was fine, that dad was OK, and that what came next was up to whatever she and God decided. I thanked her for being my mom and for teaching me so much about love, spirituality, acceptance, and living in this moment. Many of the posts on this blog include references to my relationship with my mom. Aware that the other kids may not have this blessed chance to be with her, I went down the line in their stead. "Kathy loves you." long pause... "Kim loves you." long pause... "Mike loves you." long pause... "Kay loves you." long pause... "And dad adores you." I went on to include the in-laws, the grandchildren, mom's best friend, Carole, and ended with the two dogs, Fannie and Foxy.
My mom had just finished her autobiography, the title of this post, "The First Eighty Years are the Hardest: Feeling, Dealing, Healing." For many years, her friends and family implored her to write her story and she finally did. I am now in the process of copy editing and working with her self-publishing consultant in Green Valley, AZ trying to get it formatted (she picked out way too many pictures!) and printed. Her goal was to have it done by Thanksgiving and then have at least five copies made for the kids as Christmas presents this year. By the way, if anyone who is reading this can offer some direction about how to get from the completed manuscript stage to the printed self-published book stage, I welcome your help. Someone in Albuquerque would be great. We need to insert the pictures and then we're done.
Many years ago, during the years of her psychotherapy private practice in Denver, my mom was contemplating the AA motto, "Think, Think, Think." She said she appreciated the spirit of the message, - and - she realized she had often abused the privilege a bit too much in order to avoid feeling her feelings. And so, she invented a new AA motto: "Feel, Deal, Heal." Hence, the tag line of her book title.
I am including the obituary that I wrote here, Download Obituary for Mary Roush if you would like to read it.
I plan to share with you in my next post a bit of what I've experienced around grieving. I teach a class at CNM called Death and Dying. While I learned alot through my sister's death seven years ago, this experience is quite different. I hope I might have something to offer you for when you go through this process. A friend of mine texted, "Thinking of you. How are you doing?" I texted back, "I am flowing along with the process. The process sucks." And while that is true, the process is amazing; it is huge, and it can be done. Until then, I will open another box of Kleenex, go through some more pictures and drag the dog up onto the couch with me.
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