Yesterday I returned from attending Mother's memorial service. On the way there, we broke the trip by traveling four hours Monday night to my sister's new home in Connecticut, and then Tuesday we went the rest of the way to Newburyport for the service.
It was a very small, private, service. Mother had been in a nursing home almost from the time she and my brother moved to Newburyport - so there were no friends or extended family living near enough to attend. Afterwards, we all had an early supper together, and then Marlene and I returned to my sister's house. The next day, Wednesday, we drove home.
So I find my self grieving for my mother: it felt very poignant to recognize that I was becoming more familiar with Newburyport just when I would have no reason to go there ever again, since my brother has also moved away. We stopped at the nursing home to collect Mother's things - it felt strange to go there, but not see her. And some of the staff talked about her with me, and how much they had liked her.
At the same time, the visit with my sister was lovely. Pam is my half-sister, through my father, and so not related to my mother, or involved in mourning her loss. She had just finished moving to her new home, a beautiful little salt-box-style house built sometime before 1750. This was probably the best visit I've had with my sister in years, and her home was cheerful and cozy. Friends stopped by several times; she and Marlene went walking along the road outside her house, enjoying mild fall weather and the foliage.
Yet - the house and the town are old New England - rural and quaint - the sort of place my Mother loved. Everything connected. As we left Wednesday morning, I thought of her - and of how extraordinarily different this loss feels from any other. I loved my father dearly, and knew him far less that I wished when he died suddenly, years ago. But Mother was my connection to life itself - not because of anything special in our particular relationship, but because that's what mothers are. A sense of rootedness goes with her, which surprises me, because we were certainly not rooted, either in terms of home, or relationship, or social circle, or any other measure. Nevertheless - an anchor, a strength is gone.