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We have returned safely home from our trip to Wisconsin for the funeral of Phil's grandmother, Romayne. There was (just our) family cabin time and snow and more travel and funeral and funeral ham with cheesy potatoes and then the kids besieging their teenaged cousins and (extended) family stories and drinking and family gossip and very poor sleep (because my three-year-old has been waking--and staying--up at 3 AM, and also that hideabed was awful) and the most country kitsch motel I've ever seen, let alone stayed at.

Today there was a lot of driving home. The kids had predictable we-hate-traveling meltdowns and less-predictable we-hate-chicken-nuggets meltdowns. We made it home, hitting the beginning of rush hour traffic. Then I found and cleaned up all six places the cats had puked and pooped around the house, changed the cat litter, and wrangled the kids through dinner and homework and baths and bed.

And nobody killed anybody.

And I am all disoriented due to travel and missing work/school days and daylight savings time starting, so I thought today was Wednesday and I was going to save this to post in Small Victories Wednesday. It is Tuesday. I am still very proud of this victory, though, so. Posted.

Death

Nov. 8th, 2011 03:44 pm
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (Default)
My mother died on Halloween.

She survived about 15 months after being diagnosed with ovarian and endometrial cancer. I don't say she struggled or battled or fought--she didn't like using violent imagery to describe it. She endured it with remarkable grace, and it seemed to leave her outwardly untouched for a very long time, even as it spread through her body. Up until the very end, she would run--and then walk--along the Sand Creek bike path, taking photographs that will be displayed in a gallery exhibit later this year.

She died because breathing became just too difficult. When my aunt, a nurse, told my mother that she thought my mother would probably die that night, my mother's response was to give her two thumbs up. She was ready to go. And when she stopped breathing, she smiled before she died.

Her last coherent words were to my dad: "I love you."

Her "last words" (not her actual last words, but the ones that she wanted to make sure she said) to me were, "I love you, I trust you, I believe in you," and, "You'll make a good mother. You just need to relax."

In the week between when we visited my parents to celebrate their 33 1/3 wedding anniversary (and my mother's life), and when we drove down for her funeral, the leaves of the tree in their backyard changed from green to gold...and fell. They coated the backyard like a gold carpet.

She died on Halloween.

Kansas is deep in a drought, but the day we traveled down for her funeral, the skies wept.

These all seem appropriate, somehow significant.

I'll think of her when I see trains, and I'll look for train graffiti that she would have liked. I'll think of her when I see tombstones, remembering when I was a little girl and she'd take me to cemeteries to do gravestone rubbings. I'll think of her when I see a tandem bike. I'll think of her whenever I hear somebody playing the autoharp, or singing Home on the Range, Red River Valley, Morning Has Broken, or I'll Fly Away. I'll think of her on Halloween. I'll think of her often, for all sorts of reasons.

I wrote the following about her when I was in high school. I have a lot more to say about her, to remember, to write down to tell her grandchild/children when they are old enough to understand, but right now it's all in fragments that float through my mind.


MOTHER

tall, spiring stalks bloom
red, yellow, white, pink, and off-white
with yellow streaks,
balanced in a clay pot,
her birthday gift, beside the
bright red, lime green, and purple toys
she bought in an Indian train station
from a man who carried them in a flat woven basket
on top of his head,
birds and wind-up carousels in front of
the tall brass-colored lamp with
a short, disproportional shade that tilted a little
until she figured out how to fix it,
casting diffused light onto the bold,
anti-racism poster with colored masks that
she got free
and then paid for it to be put
into a fine-grained wood frame,
stained, polished, and varnished, hanging
above the autoharp she learned to play
in Africa,
strumming metallic strings, and now making
mellow-toned background music
while she squints at her music book
in the dim light
beside the glorious shoots of flowers
that spring from a clay pot
in midwinter.
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (Default)
Got home yesterday evening from a trip to the in-laws in Wisconsin. I've been skimming through LJ entries, but tell me what happened while I was gone. We left last Thursday. Saturday was one grandmother's 80th birthday party; Sunday was the other grandmother's funeral.

I had a relatively good time, though I seem to have picked up an illness from one of the kidlets. We survived hitting a deer on the way in, an 80th birthday party for the crankiest grandma in the world, the Artificial Christmas Tree Incident, and a funeral and afterparty. The niece and nephew were adorable, though the girl was croupy (in an "aww, that poor little sick kid" sort of way)--and I think she passed the sickness on to me, 'cause my respiratory system is feeling sub-par. There was much pointed nagging about when we are planning on trying to reproduce. (Answer: This year, except that Phil is bribing me to postpone by promising an exotic vacation.) Apparently, there is even furniture set aside for when we do.

Read more... )
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (alas)
We're going to be out of town for a while. We had been planning a quick weekend trip to Wisconsin for Phil's grandmother's 80th birthday party, but now we will also be attending his other grandmother's funeral. So we won't be getting back until late next week. Alas, this means we will miss many of the festivities. It's not because we don't like you!

Also, there is no internet in Wisconsin--or at least in the house we'll be staying at. I *may* be able to check my email briefly, but don't expect a response to anything until we're back in town.
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (Default)
  • 15:14 Most people see ghosts after a loved one dies (SciAm): ping.fm/54b54
  • 15:25 ++ Petting cats for a couple of minutes while waiting for teakettle to heat up.
  • 17:35 Bought myself a little something-something for Christmas: www.somethingstore.com/
  • 11:20 Dear self, The answer to, "What should I do next?" is *not*, "Crawl back into bed."
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  • 11:35 Tense every time I open my email--waiting to hear of grandmother's death.
  • 11:40 Relatives are gathered around her bedside, holding her hand and telling her it's okay to die.
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  • 11:13 Mmm. Breakfast is a mug of Earl Gray tea and a yogurt-basil biscuit. Life is good.
  • 14:07 ++ Fleece slippers, a mug of chai tea, a candle burning on my desk, and I'm working on writing stuff.
  • 17:21 Hey, who stole my impetus? I just had it! It was right here!
  • 18:43 On photo safari, saw cat and squirrel dumpster-diving together, but was too slow to get the photo.
  • 22:03 Looks like I might be flying to KS for a funeral very soon. Grandma's in hospice & doing poorly.
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