Tag Archives: grief

My Mother’s Shoes

The genesis of this blog was all about mental catharsis. Readers will bear witness to my purging all types of thoughts right out of my head. I apologize, up front, if I get on a sad streak one week and get just darn silly the next. The blogs will flow as they flow, with minimal self-editing.

A psychologist once told me it was one of the best things you could do after a trauma…sit down and start writing it out. The blog is free, the shrink was $175.00 an hour….so here is my next blog entry.

Aristotle first used the word “catharsis” in his work, Poetics. He thought it applied to what would happen to the actors and audience after a tragic play production. The literal purging of emotion…catharsis.

One of the topics that might become repetitive to this blog is my relationship with my mother. You cannot create a blog about growing up and beyond without talking about your mother. Maternal relationships will abound as this blog also hopes to give birth to a book.

After my mother died, the family gathered at her house, after about two weeks, to divide up her personal property. I was her executor, I know at this point, she won’t mind my breach of attorney/client privilege.

There were no specific bequests in her Will, so we tried to go with conversations she had had with her kids about certain items going to this child or another. No blood was shed, although it was a day in which I felt as if I aged 10 years.

In the end, the house no longer resembled what I thought of as “home base.” The smell lingered though, that mix of Estee Lauder perfume and cornbread that identified Jewel’s domain to me.

I called my mother by her first name, Jewel. My siblings thought it was weird, but it was fine to my mother. She knew that as an adult, I looked at her differently. She was my best buddy and you called your buddies by their first name….she got it. I always thought it was funny to see my older siblings calling someone “mama”…maybe I am weird.

The sun was setting that day as the last truck pulled out of the driveway. We had done the dirty work, hugged and parted. I knew at that moment that Jewel’s seven kids would probably not be in the same room together ever again. That should have added to the grief, but let’s just say, it did not.

The trunk of my car was open and I stood there observing what I had chosen to take out of the house. There were no photographs, no brick-a-brack, and no appliances. There in the trunk sat one pair of white old lady shoes.

You know the type, Easy Spirit SAS lace ups? The shoes were well worn. Upon inspection, a piece of pink gum was stuck under the right one, with one blade of St. Augustine grass from her yard, in turn, stuck to it.

Jewel had called my house two weeks earlier, not feeling well, and asked me to come take her to the hospital. Don’t call an ambulance, she said, “I want you to drive me.” I picked her up and drove her to the ER entrance, she walked into the hospital and never walked out.

I stayed with her for two nights. We watched the 2004 Presidential debate and shared smuggled pizza. At one point, my mother “crashed” as they say, right in front of me. I was shaking her, holding her up, and struggling unsuccessfully to reach the panic button.

The nurse ran into the room, with help following. I asked her later on how she knew I needed her? I couldn’t reach the panic button. The nurse responded, “I could hear you shouting. You were yelling Mama, Mama!”

It seems in that pivotal moment, I called her something I had not uttered in 24 years. I was pleading not for my best friend to stay, but for my mama, my home base.

Her last steps were taken in those old lady shoes. She laced them up that day not knowing it was the last time. I think of that every day as I lace up my own. Carpe diem, right?

A white pair of old lady shoes sit on a shelf in my closet, amongst all of my sneakers…..a reminder of the wealth my mama left to me.

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