Recently (less than two weeks ago) my good friend Jane R, lost her mother. I probably put something in one of my blog posts about this. This evening, Betty called about sending me a check for my books, but she'd also called to tell me that we had lost our friend Carole B. from Crescent Club (the local button collector's club I am a member of). I was born in Northampton, MA and grew up in Easthampton. I was a classmate of Carole's daughter Carolyn. Therefore, not only was Carole a fellow button collector, but she was the mother of a friend from elementary school to grade 9. Another mother has passed. I just do not handle deaths of mother's well. I am sitting here all teary-eyed again just writing this.
My mother was a vibrant character in my life. She was the alpha Mom. My father was sort of always in the background. He worked second shift meaning that when we came home from school, he was on his way out the door to go to work. He would get home from work around midnight and might or might not get up to have breakfast with us and drive us to school. If he'd worked overtime and gotten home a four in the morning, then Mom drove us to school and Dad was asleep. We primarily saw him on weekends- and he was usually mowing the lawn, painting the house, trimming the trees and shrubs, fixing the car or doing whatever else was on his Honey Do List that Mom had prepared. I really didn't know my father all that well. I was sixteen or seventeen years old before I learned he liked country music!
My life was dominated by my mother. She was outgoing, opinionated, fun loving, generous, warm, caring, friendly, bossy, strong and brave. She had a huge heart and was always helping people out. Dad was more reserved. he had a few friends, guys from work, but he didn't hang out with them. Mom occasionally had her nursing school friends over for visits. Dad had a brother who was twelve years older than him. His mother died when I was four years old. Mom had a big Italian family. Our house was always filled with relatives- boisterous! Everybody laughed! My grandfather, Ernest Bruno, was a great storyteller! He was the best, but his brothers, all my great uncles- Alfred, Angelo, Nino, George...they all had stories to tell as well. I think that's where I inherited my ability to tell a story- from them. Insert beer and out would come hilarious stories!
My mom had health issues all her life. She went through hell with multiple miscarriages. She had gallbladder surgery. She developed diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, double vision and lost most of her vision to diabetic retinopathy toward the end of her life. Yet, right up to nine months before her passing she was having everyone over for big family dinners, sitting in her chair laughing and enjoying all the noise her family could produce (my brother happens to be loud- megaphone mouth!).
When she died, my life grew very quiet and still. Dad tried having the family over, but my brother and his wife moved to Nevada. John and I had Dad over to our house on Sunday and for holidays. He had a few stories to tell about his life in Hatfield, growing up in a farming community where they all helped each other plant and harvest. My father was actually a bit of a devil, the baby of the family because his little brother Felix died at age two, and Uncle Pete was so much older. we tried recording some of his better stories on his last Thanksgiving with us. We didn't know it would be his last. Between Thanksgiving and Christmas 2010- when we look at the pictures taken on both holidays, I can see how frail he became in a month's time. I really didn't notice it in person at the time and that upsets me. He passed away February 7, 2011. Ad since then, my life has become even more quiet. Basically, John, Kelly and I celebrate the holidays by ourselves. There are no boisterous family get togethers- because so many family members are gone. I miss the 60's-80's when all the big parties took place, the backyard and house overflowing with family and friends and just miscellaneous people we adopted as extended family, like our friend's families, the kids we babysat for, classmates, neighbors...
It makes me sad that so many people have left the stage on which I live my life. Curtain calls made, they have passed into the wings. I'm grateful for the family members I do still have, and for all the friends who keep me company on a daily basis. I cherish them all.
But I never stop missing those who are gone because they each carried a little piece of my heart with them when they left.