I ended up not going up to be with my mom today. I kept trying to see through the words she said to me on the phone, and I couldn't find a single entry point through her armour. She really wanted to be alone.
I decided to stay home and do my own thing. D asked if I wanted to dig into the pallets of cottage stone we had delivered this week? Yes. Building a new raised bed sounded like a brilliant plan for the day. I brought the phone out with me in case Mom called.
We were outside in the sun all day long. E pretended the brick structure was a pirate ship. She climbed our other planting beds, made fairy houses, and cooked "stew" for the bugs. She entertained herself all day.
We made more progress than I anticipated. I think we can finish the new raised bed tomorrow morning.
While heaving the stones around, I felt a lot of anger and shame that my dad had died almost 24 hours ago, and I still wasn't "allowed" to be near my mom. Sometimes I hate my screwed up family. D said his mother was "flabberghasted" to hear I was outside moving cement blocks and not at my mother's side. But I worked it through. It doesn't matter. It's not about me. I learned a long time ago that I have to take care of my own needs in matters like this. Whatever my mom wants right now is how it needs to go down.
As I was putting away my tools this afternoon, my mom called: "Would you bring over sandwiches tomorrow afternoon? After the meeting at the funeral place? Maybe we could all gather here then. I think I'll be ready then. I just needed this day alone."
I felt relieved to hear a clear message from her, and I also heard a more familiar tone in her voice.
I received her permission to call my cousins so they could tell my dad's sister. It hadn't even occured to my mother that anyone else should know that he died. My cousins -- still grieving the loss of their dad and their brother this year -- gasped and sighed and laughed as I shared what had been going on.
After the cow my mother had last month when she found out that my dad's sister's children might know that he was ill, I just kept it all inside. Today, P was surprised that I still hadn't been over there. She asked about plans for a service... Tender subject? Ummm... yeah... I told her I truly did not think that there would be one, but I would let her know if anything is arranged.
She sounded sad. Sad for me. Sad for my parents. I explained that I kept getting pushed away during this whole journey. My parents wanted to do for themselves, wanted no help. Even a hug from a child felt like too much fuss. I told P that it had made me feel pretty crazy -- to be denied the opportunity to love and attend to my parents as one of them died. So I realized a month or so ago that I would have to be very creative and figure out how to have my own "service" for my father, and I was okay with that.
"So, you know, P... since I'm such a creative lady, I've been making up my own pretend 'ashes' to scatter when the time comes because you and I both know that my mother won't let me see or touch the real ones."
"Hey, Cathy... I have Dad up in the closet, and S has R up in her closet -- waiting for the family service later this year... we have some ashes you can borrow!"
We cracked up.
So my dad died. I feel okay. Today I feel relieved. His pain is over, and he is released. Mom is a tough nut to crack, but I'm just going to keep admiring the hard contours of her shell instead of trying to get at the center ("Wow... look at this marvel of engineering! It's waterproof! It requires a sledge hammer to crack. Go mom!")
I'll just bring sandwiches and keep heaving cement blocks around.
And I will wander through my own grief stages -- rage, denial, shame, worry, acceptance, joy and freedom -- in my own way.