“The mark of your ignorance is the depth of your belief in injustice and tragedy. What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the Master calls the butterfly.”—Richard Bach
This is an excerpt from my book: The Bliss Mistress Guide To Transforming The Ordinary Into The Extraordinary. I share it today in honor of my mother, Selma Weinstein who passed 3 years ago today. May her memory be for a blessing.
I began writing this final chapter sitting comfortably in a blue and gray tweed seat onboard the Amtrak Auto Train en route from Sanford,
Florida to Lorton, Virginia. I gazed out the window waiting for the train to take me to my new life—one without parents physically
accompanying me. My father took his leave on April 3, 2008, and my mother joined him on November 26, 2010. She passed peacefully, with
the hospice nurse by her side. Orchestrating it perfectly, my mother made sure that neither my sister, nor I, nor her devoted live-in caregiver Claudia
were present. I had spoken with her earlier in the week, asking if she wanted me to spend Thanksgiving with her and she declined, telling me it wasn’t
necessary and that she was ok. I reminded her that it was likely, then, that I wouldn’t be there until the very end. I fully anticipated holding
her hand and watching her take her fi nal breath. It wasn’t to be. By Wednesday, when I called her for our morning check in, she
told me she didn’t want to talk. When I contacted her on Thanksgiving, to tell her I love her, her voice was barely audible. The next morning,
I spoke with the hospice nurse, who informed me that this formerly vigorous woman “was very weak” and couldn’t speak. I asked the nurse
to kiss her for me. I then heard the voice in my head say clearly, “Mom is never going to call you again,” and the tears began to flow. A few
minutes later, I said to my father: “Take care of her now,” and then corrected it. “Take care of each other.”
Less than an hour later, my sister called and informed me that our mother had just died. My reaction was visceral, as a howl of “Oh no!”
emerged and the sobbing began. As I sat at my desk at my full-time job as a social worker in a psychiatric hospital, it occurred to me that now
there was no rush to travel the 1200 miles south to the home in which she and my Dad moved in 1989. She was already gone. When my father
died, I arrived four hours prior to the time his heart stopped counting out the flow of his life. My sister and I traveled from our respective homes of New
Jersey and Pennsylvania, girding ourselves for the ordeal of being motherless daughters. As I entered the Philadelphia International Airport, a smile
lit my face. “She did it again,” I thought, choosing likely the least busy travel day, since it was the day after Thanksgiving and most people were
still likely at their destinations.
My mother’s Toyota Camry ® is tucked in with the other autos, hopefully playing nicely. It is filled with well packed boxes that represent
more than 20 years of the life that she and my father shared in Ft. Lauderdale—and the three decades prior to that. It amazes me when I
consider how objects are both personal and impersonal. In reality, they are not flesh and blood beings, but they reflect the style, sense, and
sensibility of their owner. Elegant and playful clothing to be donated to The Salvation Army®, which I know she would like other women to
enjoy, are waiting in bags in her front hallway. Kitchenware in one of the boxes that I remember from my childhood include a glass rolling
pin, a hard-boiled egg slicer, and (I will endeavor to describe it here) a wide plastic straw-like object with serrated edges that is to be dug into
an orange so that the juice can be sucked out. A tarnished silver teapot brought over as one of the few possessions of my Russian immigrant
paternal grandmother is nestled amidst the newspaper wrapped ‘good china’ that we used at Passover.
My thoughts spin back to a phone conversation a few weeks ago when her mind was still sharp and her ‘gravel Gertie voice’ as I referred
to it, since her constricted breathing made it hard to project, was still comprehensible. Often we would take imaginary trips together—
sometimes going ice skating on a pond, bundled in warm clothing, sipping hot chocolate afterward. Other times we would go to a park
and play on the swings, our feet feeling like they were touching the sky, or ride on beautifully painted white alabaster horses on a carousel. Her
favorite place to ‘visit’ was Hawaii, since although she and my father traveled extensively in their later years, they had never visited the 50th
“So Mom,” I inquired, “Where are we going today?”
With little girl excitement, she responded, “Oh, we’re going to Hawaii, to a luau. But no roast pig.”
“Ok. A kosher luau, then. And what will we do there?”
“We’ll dance the hula and get lei-d.”
I grinned, knowing that she meant having leis draped over our heads. “So, two wild women out on the town, getting lei-d. I like that
She joined me in raucous laughter. And then I asked what we would be eating at the festive occasion.
For the uninitiated, s’mores are a yummy and decadent combo of graham crackers, melted marshmallows, and chocolate bars. My mother
and I share a love of most things sweet—chocolate being a lifelong drug of choice. “Mom, I don’t think they serve s’mores at luaus. I would bet
that they serve s’mores in Heaven.”
“I hope so,” was her delighted answer.
I will have to wait until she tells me if that is the case.
http://www.liveinjoy.org/order-book/ To read the rest of the book(:
http://youtu.be/Iq0XJCJ1Srw Nature Boy by Nat King Cole (one of my mother’s favorite songs)