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Monday, May 11, 2015

Mother's Day - A Different Way

Last month, when my first birthday after Parrish’s death came around, I was unprepared, and the day was half over before I realized why I was so unaccountably anxious and tearful. That I should be turning 67, and Parrish would never have another birthday, I suppose, was wrapped in the denial for which I am so famous. A friend was here to help me set up Apple TV, and I could’t find the remote control. I rarely use it because I have one of those from the cable company that does everything except go to the kitchen for snacks. I am also famously forgetful, but it is unlike me not to know where essential things are, especially electronic stuff. Bob, my helpful friend, managed to set up Apple TV without the remote, and after it was up and running—I had to have it because I am addicted to Netflix, and watching it on my laptop was killing my eyes—he stayed around for a drink. I remember repeating myself to him several times and feeling frustrated and a little confused. It was less than five minutes after he left that I went directly to the drawer in the table upon which the TV sits and retrieved the stupid remote. Imagine that. 
That was when my denial unraveled and I sat down hard on my spot on the blue loveseat in the den and covered my face with my hands and wept as I did on the night Parrish died. Hell, I’m crying right now, just writing about it. I walked around the house and into his room, clutching a fistful of tissues. I sat on the edge of his bed, then fell over on his pillow to finish crying. It took a while. In fact, I had spells of weeping for the rest of the evening and into the night.  
So, you can imagine I was not looking forward to Mother’s Day. Parrish, even when he was hundreds of miles away and completely out of my reach, always made a thing about Mother’s Day. There was always a card and often a phone call. Last year, he brought me an African violet—which has grown so much I had to repot it last week—and brought me breakfast in bed. 
So, about two weeks ago, I started trying to prepare myself for yesterday. My mother passed away over 15 years ago, so I couldn't do anything with or for her. The thought of being both motherless and childless brought on a deluge of tears. I thought about leaving town for the weekend, checking into a good hotel with room service and a spa, but when I started checking rates, I decided I should save my money to pay to have the dead pine tree in my back yard taken down. I considered making plans with friends but realized that most of them would already be involved with their own mothers or children.
On Saturday night, I got a call from Gregory, my yard person, also known as Crab Man because he can often be found crabbing from the Village Pier. He wanted to come over yesterday morning at 8:00 to blow off the roof and do the yard. Since I’m not an early riser, we negotiated a more civilized time, 10:00. 
I scheduled my Mother’s Day, sort of. I planned to sleep until about 9:00 and let the day unfold before me. I promised myself a trip to the gym. I filled the bird feeder and ate breakfast on the deck, then read the news and did the crossword puzzle. The weather was perfect, warm but not hot, clear and cloudless.
Crab Man arrived on time, with his puppy, Two Spot, a six-weeks old bulldog, riding in the basket of his bike. You can’t tell from the photo I took, but his name comes from the two round black spots on his back, near his tail. Every other hair on his plump little body is white. I was instantly in love. Honey, who in general despises all other dogs who come near me, gave him a sniff and a once-over before turning up her nose curling into her spot next to me on the love seat. 
When Crab Man started blowing off the roof, Two Spot began to howl, that piercingly sharp sound of despair that only a puppy can make. So, I brought him inside with us. Honey gave him a cursory sniff and resettled herself. Two Spot curled his fat little body at my feet and went to sleep. And thus it was that I puppy-sat for several hours. I was his surrogate mother for a while, waking him every now and then to go outside and “Do number one,” as Crab Man says. Then we’d come back inside, Two Spot would drink a little water and go back to sleep. 
Meanwhile, I was watching “Grace and Frankie” on Netflix and laughing my ass off. My afternoon was punctuated with calls and messages from some of my most important people: Addie, Fonda, Marnie, Kristy and Gretchen, Nancy, and my darling Sophie. And I was “mothering” a living being, a little blessing to help me through the day. 
When Two Spot was once more situated in the basket of Crab Man’s bike, they peddled off, and I dressed and went to the gym.  
When I got back home, I cleaned up, and Honey and I drove down to the Village. Finding a parking space was almost impossible. Mallory street, which circles around to the pier and back, looked like a scene from American Graffiti—all manner of vehicles looping slowly, bumper to bumper. I finally found a space near the bike shop, two blocks from the pier. Dogs aren’t allowed on the pier, and Honey hates wind anyway, so she stayed in the car while I walked down to watch Lawrence’s ship pass on its way back out to sea.
Thinking how fitting a tribute it would be to Parrish, I went to BlueWater and climbed the stairs to sit where we so often did, overlooking the pier and Saint Simons Sound. I had some wine and a sandwich, and about the time I finished, I saw the pilot boat approaching  the pier, so I paid my check and went down to walk back out and see Lawrence for a minute. I ran into him just as I left the restaurant, and he walked me to my car. I wasn’t sure I wanted to see him yesterday, but I’m glad I did. He was a comfort to me, another blessing.
When I got home, I watched some more “Grace and Frankie,” laughed some more and finally fell into bed after midnight. I didn’t get up today until nearly noon. Ain’t I something?

© 2015 cj Schlottman


Viki said...

I am so sorry and was unaware that something had happened to Parrish. God Bless you!

Janice Applegate said...

Yes ... you are something wonderful, and this is a lovely post. I enjoyed every word.

Susan Anderson said...

My heart stopped reading this, Claudia. I had no idea that Parrish was gone.

I have no words, or not any good ones anyway, but I care deeply and hope you find more and more peaceful days ahead.


Anonymous said...

I "met" you on Jenny Matlock's Saturday Centus challenge. I always admired your words and so I began to take a peek at your blog(s). I work with a mental health agency and so I feel like I can understand, in a way, your struggles with your son. As a mother, my heart always broke a bit when I put myself in your place. That said, I always cheered when you were so brave in the face of such adversity. When I recently checked in and saw that your son had passed away I was sick. Sick for you, sick with empathy for a person I've never met, yet somehow feel like I "know".

I watch another mother grieve the loss of a son on another blog. A commenter wrote something to that mother that I felt compelled to copy and send to you, via this comment section.

So while these are not my words, they are words I felt needed to be shared with you.... ( I hope the author does not mind)

"Let us also acknowledge the mothers who will not be getting Mother’s Day cards or flowers or phone calls because they have lost children through tragedies that have broken hearts in deep and everlasting ways. Please remember that the miraculous thing about the bond between mother and child is that it is forever and the love shared transcends time, space and physicality. And know that your mothering will always be remembered by the universe and the ripples set in motion by your love will continue through time and space in very real and tangible ways forever and ever. You will always be a mother and may your day be filled with happy memories that warm your heart and make you tear up and smile at the same time. You have loved as dearly and as deeply as any mother possible could and that love is forever." ~ Ksarens

I hope you find comfort in knowing that people you don't even know are praying for your grieving heart and wishing you the peace that you deserve.

Like most every mother everywhere, you did your very best.

~ Koby

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