When you have to go home again

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Apr 04, 2013 1:12 AM GMT
    When I moved to the east coast in 2007, my Mum was in her 60s, my kids had just got their first apartment on their own. Leaving Ottawa I knew I would likely next see the place that had served as a constant throughout a very itinerant youth growing up in a military family, only under sad circumstances.

    In just over a week's time now, I go home for a few days to see my brother and sister, my children and other relatives, and bury my mother's ashes.

    My Mum passed away on January 31 aged 80, of a massive stroke, only three months after visiting me in PEI. i have a nice memory of bringing my Mum to the formal dinner after the NDP leadership convention. (One of the perks of running, even though I did not win the leadership, was dinner with Tom Mulcair, the leader of Canada's Official Opposition.)

    In my Mum's many years as the wife of a military officer, she had attended many such functions on my father's arm; it was a thrill to bring her to one again, this time with her youngest son.

    There is to be a private service at the graveside, and later there will be a much larger gathering to memorialize her.
    I've been given the heads up I should be prepared to say a few words at each of the gatherings. Thr first is family only; the second is public. Publicly we are very concious of appearances ; privately, we are a volatile bunch. In public we are all smiles and happy families; out of public eye we range from indifferent to hostile in dealing with each other. To minimise the potential for conflict, I am staying two days at a hotel downtown (more convenient to meet up with other people) and staying two days wih my siblings at my late mother's house.

    I don't know what to say.

    Emotionally I keep dwelling on the meaning of the the words "you can't go home again"

    As part of this, my last visit to this house, i will go for a long walk through the neighbourhood where i grew up wih a camera - following the very trails that feature often in my dreams, to my old house... to my school, then to my high school... then to to massive rusting scultpure titled The Watcher.... then back to the home my mother bought after my father died, transforming it and making it hers. It will be interesting to see how closely it all still resembles my dream.

    We have decided to sell it in the summer, after we have the pool opened. So when I leave it this time, it will indeed be forever. What contents I do not take with me will be relegated to memory- all pieces of my family's history.

    I fear much will be expected of me to say something memorable and I am not sleeping well trying to think of what to say.

  • Suetonius

    Posts: 2181

    Apr 04, 2013 1:23 AM GMT
    I have never been to a service in Canada, but to lots of funerals in the US. What is typically done here, is that someone who speaks about the departed shares some good memories of the deceased. I think that is all that would be expected of you - by relatives or the public. She was your mother - not the public's, - what you say is for your and her friend's benefit - not anyone else's.

    If on the odd chance, none of your memories of her were pleasant (you did not say), make somethinhg up.
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    Apr 04, 2013 1:29 AM GMT
    Sad news, but besides being the only guarantee in life, it's an opportunity to create a new normal. We often tend to make death all about us instead of the person that passed. Celebrate the connection you had, good or bad; it's the sum of all those connections that make us who we really are-- not the house we used to live in or the clothes we drag around. That way it's not about you, it's not about her, but the connection.
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    Apr 04, 2013 1:57 AM GMT
    Thanks for both replies.

    My memories of my Mum were indeed all positive. Mum was in fact the one constant point of connection between us all , as well as our mutual rock. So the suggestion of focussing on the place she holds as the nexus of all these connections is a great direction to go.

    I have a personal good memory I can share with the family, as it involved one of those rare occasions when her emotional guard dropped. With the public I can share the story of her spontaneously taking me to see a showing of "Bambi" while a party went on at our house.
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    Apr 04, 2013 2:00 AM GMT
    I can also share a couple of memories and thoughts sent by friends of mine who knew her many years ago.
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    Apr 04, 2013 2:06 AM GMT
    My high school girlfriend wrote me to recall how my Mum first introduced us at a party at the Officer's Mess She was -as she described it - acting like a spoiled brat until my mum smoothly said "let me introduce you to my son...". I had forgotten it was actually my Mum who had introduced us first.

    That girl gave me my first blow job in grade 11 (when I was 15)

    Maybe I should leave that part out of the story. icon_redface.gif
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    Apr 04, 2013 2:10 AM GMT
    I'm sorry for your loss..

    Hopefully taking a walk down memory lane will be more of an adventure than just reminiscing..

    ..I had a similar setup when my dad passed .. To be honest with you..I had a BLAST!!
  • AMoonHawk

    Posts: 11422

    Apr 04, 2013 3:39 AM GMT
    I'm sorry for your loss .. think of the memories and talk about those ... remember a story in your life with her that speaks of your love for her and speaks of her goodness.

    Here some songs ... sometimes music takes us where we need to be

  • Fable

    Posts: 3866

    Apr 04, 2013 3:45 AM GMT
    That's sad.

    Honestly. It'll be easier than you think. It's sounds like you truly loved her. Think of the reasons why and talk of those. Go on a trip down memory lane. Don't be afraid to share your most intimate feelings - because everyone else will connect with them and understand. Hope you are ok
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    Apr 04, 2013 4:12 AM GMT

    *hugs Upper_Cdn*

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    Apr 04, 2013 4:16 AM GMT
    Our deepest sympathy to you on the loss of your mother.My mother has been ill and declining for over 4 years.May God in his mercy grant her eternal rest.Ryan and Ruben
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Apr 04, 2013 4:16 AM GMT
    sorry about your mom.
    I'd say what is in my heart...
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    Apr 04, 2013 4:21 AM GMT
    That was a very eloquent original post. Stay on that track and speak from your heart and you will give an excellent memorial. You have a very descriptive way of writing that almost transports the reader with you.

    I am truly sorry for your loss.

    I wish you all the best.
  • Thirdbeach

    Posts: 1367

    Apr 04, 2013 5:33 AM GMT
    My condolances to you and your family in your loss.

    Tough as it might be, you will ultimatley do what feels the right way to say good bye to your Mother.
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    Apr 04, 2013 3:37 PM GMT
    I'm sorry about your loss. I personally would never have been able to speak at my mother's funeral. I'm way too emotional and she meant the world to me, I was just way too broken to ever talk even though her death was anticipated.

    Good luck with going home, it can't be easy but probably a valuable part of the grieving process.
  • hdurdinr

    Posts: 699

    Apr 04, 2013 3:53 PM GMT
    Sorry for your loss, no matter what the age of the person dying they were still 'them' and then they're not here anymore and it's the distance that hurts.
    I hope the trip around your hometown will be helpful to you. You mightn't even need the camera. Not to trivialize anything, but in the last episode of 'six feet under' someone who has passed away 'tells' one of the characters taking a family photo "you can't take a photo of this, it's already gone."
    I'm as guilty as anyone of trying to 'hold on' to things but eventually you just have to let it all go and be wherever you are and feel home within yourself remembering fondly all the good times you had with your family growing up, safe in the knowledge that your sense of home 'happened' and nothing can ever threaten that.