Wednesday, June 07, 2006

My Husband's Mother

My husband’s mother passed away very suddenly two weeks ago. She was diagnosed with a breast cancer nearly eleven years ago. She suffered through surgeries and chemotherapy. She experimented with a lot of homeopathic remedies, especially chiropractic and herbal remedies. She never won the battle. However, cancer was not what brought about her sudden death. She had a chemo treatment on Friday and was admitted to the hospital on the following Monday after she had been falling asleep at her desk. My husband spoke to her that evening and she was prepared to go home Tuesday morning, she died of pneumonia Tuesday afternoon.

We cried. We made arrangements for the care of the children. We boarded a plane.

Her first marriage lasted eleven years and produced three children, my husband being the youngest. Her second marriage lasted four years and broke any ties that she may have wanted with her children. She moved several states away and her visits came seldom more than once a year.

It’s a complicated situation. The flurry of arrangements began.

She moved from town to town, state to state. She was searching for something. I don’t think she ever found it. Or, maybe she was running from something. Did she feel guilt? Did she find forgiveness? She started several careers. She went back to college and became a certified nurse. She moved from town to town, state to state.

We dug through piles of paper work to find if she had a last will and testament. We ordered an autopsy and for the body to be cremated.

She was alone, so very alone. Her father was a preacher as was her first husband and her brother-in-law. She was raised in God’s church, she knew God’s laws, but I don’t think she ever knew God’s love or believed that she was one of His children. She joined a New Age religion that worships light and sound and sings to Hu, which is a god. She journaled about her dreams and wrote letters to a picture of a balding man in a dark suit that was said to be the “Master”.

We made calls to inform relatives that the memorial service would be at the “golden pyramid temple”.

Her daughter spoke at the memorial service. She gave a brief history of her mother’s life then read a letter that said, “You left to soon. We weren’t finished”. She was remembered as mischievous. A chiropractor told a story about the cats that she had given her. A man that took a class with her said, “She told nice stories.” The same man sang two songs one was a rendition of Amazing Grace except he reworded it to sing Amazing Hu.

I didn’t cry. My husband didn’t cry. My children didn’t cry.

Her oldest son dug through pictures to present a memorial board at the service. There were many head shots of her as a beautiful young single woman and as a lovely older single woman. There were a few pictures of her on a visit with one of her children and a couple with all three. There were childhood photos and even one of a Navy Ball she attended with her second husband. There was only one photo of her holding her second grandchild. No other photos of the four grandchildren were on the memorial board.

The clergy woman spoke slowly and deliberately because, as she explained before the service began, not all people understand what Hu is and she needed to speak so very slowly so we could contemplate every word. She told us about the light and sound and about Hu and “Balding Master” in a dark suit. There were some words that were not spoken slowly or were omitted; daughter, sister, friend, mother and grandmother.

The two ex-husbands sat next to each other.

The best thing that came out of the service was an apology. Not from her, but from her second husband to her children. He said, “Listen, I want you to know that I have a daughter now and I’m very sorry that I didn’t encourage your mom to have a relationship with you. I’m rather ashamed about that.”

The clergy woman spoke quickly and said, “There will be a private gathering for the family afterwards, there is nothing planned for the rest of you.” My Sister-in-law felt a panicky urge to go purchase candy bars and juice boxes to hand out to the Hu followers and co-workers.

We left the “golden pyramid temple” and drove back to my Brother-in law’s home. There were ten family members and four of my sister-in-laws family that gathered to eat and fellowship. The afternoon was beautiful and sunny. The children ran around the yard. We ate good food. Some of us drank beer and sat on the big wood swing.

It was a long day. We were exhausted from all the digging through paper work, making phone calls and making decisions.

Now we’re home.

There is still much to be done, many phone calls to make. My husband is flying back to meet with the court registrar to become the representative of his mother’s estate.

He is not sad. He is not angry. He is just tired.

He is the son of a woman that he called Mom.


Everyday Mommy said...

That is one of the most tragic stories I've ever read. I am deeply saddened.

shannon @ rocks in my dryer said...

I am so sorry. We have a similar situation in our a family, and I can understand the strange numbing you feel.

Chris said...

Thanks for your entry here April. I just finished lunch with Clay...heard much of the same from him. Very tragic, yet the numbness makes a lot of sense. I'm so grateful, as I'm sure you are, for the clear demonstration of God's grace in your lives. He's blessed you family richly...even in the midst of--indeed even through--Mommy Hangovers and such ;-)

Jessie said...

April, thanks for sharing. We are praying for you guys as your work through this.