Friday, December 1, 2023

Boring, Oregon

As a resident of Normal, Illinois, I was delighted to pass through Boring, Oregon on a recent trip to Portland for the birth of my grandbaby! I'm happy to report that Boring* was not boring at all, but a charming town, as was Sandy, Oregon, both on the way to Trillium Lake, pictured here with Lola and her mother (my daughter!) in the foreground and Mount Hood in the background, near sunset, looking golden. It was still white on our way up.

*It's named for a fellow, not a state of mind. And Normal, Illinois is mentioned in the Boring, Oregon Wikipedia article!

And here is Lola as a polar bear. Shortly after this, she had a diaper change and nursed in a warm car. Reality. Golden background or no. It was an absolute delight to be with her. I was present at her birth, a long labor. I held her for hours many nights, so her parents could get some sleep. I did what my mother did for me, with both my children. I was so grateful to be able to do so! And it makes me cry to say so.

I miss my mommy. People, I have to tell you I would stare at the photo of her I sent for her obituary and posted on my Facebook page, and say, "My mommy!" and cry every time, as I am crying now. At first, in the thick of it all, labor, delivery, tending the baby, I just kept going. I knew what to do; it was what she would do. Then grief would surprise me with its whack in the heart. My husband tells me this will keep happening. My heart goes out to all of you who have lost someone dear to you. Especially, if she was a good one, your mother. Mine was. I know I am lucky.

Upon my return to Normal, I went to work. I did laundry. I paid utility bills. I tried to catch up on various tasks. I visited my father, who is doing OK. I love to get mail. Good old-fashioned snail mail. But, so far, I have been unable to open the many condolence cards that arrived in my absence, were held at the post office, and got delivered in two bunches on my return. I'm sorry! I will open them eventually, and reply to you, as would my mother. I will probably use the box of cards she had saved, that I found in her house as I was clearing it out in September and October so it could be sold. My father closed on the house on November 1. Lola was born November 4. My mother died November 5. It was a lovely circle, and it makes me 1) weep 2) grateful.

I'm grateful that my sister could travel to Normal while I was gone, and that she slept beside my mother on the night she died. I'm grateful that my dad could be included in a big, lively, joyful Thanksgiving celebration with my brother-in-law's family! And that we had a lovely celebration of our own, in Portland. I'm grateful that my son is perfecting the traditional orange-pretzel salad, a favorite my mom used to make for holiday meals, and that he will be able to come home for Christmas this year.

I'm grateful to be boring! To post relentless pictures of my grandchild! Grateful to be a grandmother. It's what my mother was! Both my kids joined me for a Zoom church remembrance of my mom. Grateful for that! And that my brother could also attend, from California. (We'll have a celebration of life later, in warmer weather. In Normal.) I'm grateful that my mom's sister and her daughter came to town the weekend it all came to a crisis, and saw my mom in her last lucid moments, before she seized and slept.

And now this next adventure, navigating grief. I'm starting with evasion, leaving those letters sealed, doing chores, decorating for Christmas, but, as my dad said, I have to "go through it," and we will. Together and on our own. In my case, some poems are coming, to rescue me. Words are suddenly rolling out, not quite randomly.