Thursday, January 7, 2016

The Goldfinch

I started reading listening to The Goldfinch today. There will be very few spoilers, if any, because I just started reading listening to it today.

In the beginning, Theo tells of how his life is marked by his mother's death - life before she died, and life after she died. I think for anyone who has lost someone they love, someone who has always been a part of your life, an important part of your life, feels this way. He says that no one ever made him feel loved like his mother did. How she made the normal seem special. He states that she uses a Mary Poppins voice. He states that she was beautiful too. When he remembers her, he remembers what she had on that day and that is how he always pictures her, in those clothes.

In March, it will be two years since my mother died. The first three months following her death, I sobbed. I sobbed as I gardened. Doug would walk up to me with his arms outstretched saying "Oh, honey." I would wave him away. I needed to sob. I would sob at work - sitting before my two monitors, sniffing and staring straight ahead, blowing my nose. At the end of the day I would thank my colleagues for not making a fuss, not noticing that I sobbed all day. I couldn't really stop. Then her birthday rolled around and I hiked for her at a local state park. This is what I am going to do in her memory on her birthday as long as I am physically able. I went to my daughter's house for both Thanksgiving and Christmas. I needed to be with her and her family and to be with people who love me. When someone I normally communicate with said I didn't get in touch that first year, I was shocked. I suppose it was true. The first year I muddled through. This second year has been easier.
I still miss her terribly, I think about her often, she is with me all the time. I see her in my face when I look into the mirror. I look just like her and when people tell me so, it is such a compliment. Like Theo, I always thought my mother was beautiful.

My mother was, for most of her life, very heavy. This led to a lot of the end of life problems she experienced - heart damage, joint issues, knee replacements. In the end, she walked with a walker with a swagger, moving side to side. Despite my mother's weight, I always thought she was beautiful. Oh, I hated it when she frosted her hair when that was popular and when she let the girls at the beauty school work on her, but to me, she was beautiful.
Like Theo, no one ever loved me as much as my mother. She was always there to listen to me. She would pet me over the phone when I would call her to complain of being ill. When I shut my finger in the trunk, I ran to her house so she could take care of it for me.

For most of my growing-up years, my family was very poor. My mother was a cafeteria worker in our school so that she could be off with us when we had school breaks. My dad was an insurance man for whom success came late in his career, coinciding with when all three of us left the house. Like Theo's mother, my mother made the ordinary feel oh so special. When I was very young, my dad worked in a factory. He must have worked the afternoon shift, because in the evenings, it was just mother and us kids. Mother would poor a little Dixie cup of pop or kool-aid for us and serve popcorn in Melmac bowls. She would play albums of classical music on the record player for us - Swan Lake, The Nutcracker, Porgy and Bess. I loved those nights and from those nights with the record player began my love of music.

Mother wasn't a great cook, but on our birthdays, we could choose what we wanted to eat. There was one thing she made well and that is what I always requested - spaghetti. Her sauce would simmer on the stove all day long. Often when we went camping as a family, she would cook the sauce over the campfire and everyone camping around us would all talk about how delicious it smelled. She would make a home baked cake and while she cleaned up the kitchen, my dad would put the three of us in the car and we would drive to a drugstore called Hooks, (which is CVS these days,) and he would allow us to pick the ice-cream we wanted to eat.

Just as Theo states his mother used a Mary Poppins voice, I always called my mother Pollyanna. She was usually positive, no matter what - a trait she learned from her Grandma. Often I thought she was naive or unrealistic. At Christmas, no matter what was going on in our lives, it was supposed to be wonderful. I am mostly positive and get this from my mother's example.
Now when I think of her, I think of talks we had or how many times we told each other we loved each other - especially in the end, in the hospital. It was all we needed to say. Now, I mull over conversations, savoring every word. I recall disagreements we had and now that I don't have her any longer, I regret some of my negative behavior and bad attitude and smart mouth retorts, but this was in the years I was a teenager. I know now she was just trying to raise me up the best she could.

I'm fortunate that while doing my job I can listen to podcasts or books. I have a degree in English and used to be quite the snob about how the actual reading of a book was superior to listening to a book. I'm glad I got over this.

I've just started reading listening to this book and thus far, I like it. Today, it made me think of and remember my mother which is always good.


Kris said...

What a lovely tribute to your dear Mom. I know you miss her terribly!
I am so happy to be back in the world of blogging. I have so missed it!
Hope this finds you warm and well!!!
No more chickens?
How is the quilting coming along?
xo Kris

Heidrun Khokhar, KleinsteMotte said...

Wherehave you gone? Missing you here.

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