My mother: Mary Agnes Burke Maffeo. She died at 55 years old-much too soon.
I’m reading Life After Life by Jill McCorkle, and in it, a hospice volunteer writes stories about people who have died. This got me thinking about my mother, who died at home with hospice. Of course, my mother had her obituary. I don’t remember much of what it said, other than the obligatory series of ‘survived by’s’. Anyway, it was hardly a story about her life.
So here, in no particular order, are some random thoughts about my mother:
When she was in her thirties, she began reading books by Edgar Cayce. I thought they were kind of hokey, but I surreptitiously read some of them when she wasn’t looking. I didn’t want her to know I was interested in them for some reason. She also liked Bernie Seigel, and gave me her book, Love, Medicine, and Miracles. I lent it to a fellow student nurse who never returned it.
She kept a bowl of Tootsie Roll midgets on her fridge and whenever my son was visiting her, she gave him some. After she died, he inherited the candy bowl. I don’t know what happened to it. Probably got lost in a move.
She worked the evening shift at her job and I could never understand why she liked that shift so much. Me? I was in my 20’s then. I liked to get up, go to work, and get it over with. “Wouldn’t you rather do that?” I asked her. “No. I like to get up and go slow. Drink my tea, pick up the house, and then go to work,” she told me. Now that I am in my 50’s, I have realized that I am like her in this way.
She always set her hair. With rollers. Always. She used a lot of hairspray. She almost never wore makeup. She was Irish and liked the Irish Rovers. Saint Patrick’s Day was one of her favorite holidays. She almost never drank alcohol. The first time I remember seeing her cry (and drink alcohol, too, come to think of it) was the night her father died. She was 29 years old; I was 7 years old. She loved animals. At one time we had 13 cats and 3 dogs. She took in any stray, whether animal or human, without a second thought. She was one of the kindest people I have ever known. My daughter is like her in this way.
She was a Nana. She loved my child (I only had one then; my daughter was born three years after she died) as much as I did. She always felt like she didn’t see me, us, often enough.
Once when I went shopping with her, she bought me a pair of jelly sandals that I still have.
She liked Dean Martin and Engelbert Humperdinck. She was an excellent cook, from whom I had no interest in learning, to my everlasting sorrow. She listened to me complain about what she was making for supper many a night, even if it was something I liked, much as I listen to my own daughter complain now about meals that I make which she proceeds to eat and then to ask for seconds.
My mother didn’t want to die. She left us kicking and screaming.