Yodeling cowboys, ramen, and grief

Yodeling cowboys, ramen, and grief

Photo of Mom as a child with her pet chicken Brownie

Momand her pet chicken Brownie

Grief is a funny thing. One moment you’re doing fine, getting on with life and the next moment a memory flits across the horizon and you’re emotionally sandbagged.

I have a lifetime of memories that keep tumbling out at odd moments. Sitting on the subway and a laugh reminds me of a conversation with Mom or standing in the kitchen makes me remember the last time we cooked a meal together. We had a lot of laughs over the years. Lately, those moments have been popping up all over the place. They are … bittersweet. We’ll have no more moments of unbridled laughter at the silliest things. So many of those memories are tied up in events or jokes only mom understood. I’m holding each memory tightly.

Yodelling cowboys and Mom

I still have her YouTube account with all her favourite music.  I scroll through the lists occasionally, smiling at some of the memories. Music played all the time in our apartment. Christmas songs in July, opera singers during breakfast, Joan Baez over tea, old musicals in the wee hours of the morning, it was like she had a theme track running along with her life. That’s what bothered me the most when she died. The silence.

She also liked yodelling cowboys. Yes, yodelling cowboys. I’d come home occasionally to Slim Whitman yodelling away, Mom leaning back on the couch singing along. It was quite an experience. Mom and her music. Still makes me laugh at times

Soup and Mom

After her first operation, mom’s diet restrictions meant her food choices were limited and repetitious. To tweak her appetite, we explored different ingredients, things she never tried. She became quite adventurous during the last years.

Her favourite meal was soup. Good old-fashioned soup. She could eat it every day. I used to make little pots of it for her when she wasn’t feeling well. I enjoyed cooking for her. She was an appreciative audience. After a lifetime of cooking for everyone else, she liked the feeling of sitting around reading while someone else made dinner.

Mom always thought a noodle was a noodle. She didn’t grow up with the variety we have now. When I made her Ramen soup for the first time, it was a revelation. She was hooked on ramen noodles. Oh my, she ate a lot of it. Couldn’t seem to get enough. I taught her how to make it so she could have a fresh bowl whenever she wanted. It became her go-to quick meal.

Yodelling cowboys, ramen, and mom

One late night last year, around 2 am, I woke to the sounds of yodelling. I’d often hear her music in the night or hear her rustling around in the kitchen. It was like living with a little mouse at times. This night the music was a little louder than usual. I got out of bed to ask if she could nudge the sound down. I found her in the kitchen, making soup.

I stood in the door watching for a few moments. Slim Whitman was crying about lost loves, horses and I haven’t a clue what else. And mom, all 4’10″ of her, dressed in an oversized Tony the Tiger t-shirt and green plaid track pants, her grey hair standing up like Tin Tin’s, yodelling along.  Oh yea, yodelling and chopping carrots for the ramen soup simmering on the stove.

She was so happy at that moment. She turned and saw me, blushed a bit, and asked if she woke me. I said no, no. I was just getting up to get a glass of water. Just wondered what you were doing. Turns out, she had been playing Farmville 2 and became hungry. Of course, that meant another pot of soup. Those noodles were like crack.

I didn’t have the heart to ask her to turn the music down. I just shrugged and said it’s all cool and went back to bed.

Another stage of grief

I wish I could have more moments like that. Nights of her singing to herself and making soup; Farmville and Tony-the-Tiger shirts; Tin-Tin hair and yodelling cowboys. I miss every minute of it. I grieve over the reality there will be no more memories to make together. I’ll have to cling to the ones I have.

If you’re dealing with grief, whether over someone who has died or the dramatic changes that have occurred during the past years, check this site out for a bit of moral support.

Still contrary at 60 years old

Still contrary at 60 years old

I’m now past 60 years old. I always feel like I should start these posts with “Dear Diary, You’ll never guess what”.  Anyway. With my birthday firmly in the rear view mirror, I have a confession to make. I’m surprisingly content.

Been a horrible couple of years, with stress beyond belief and I’m still grieving hard for mom. I miss her every day. I have the odd cry when I lean over to tell her something funny and she’s not there to laugh with me. But over the past few months, a sense of peace has caught up with me. I realise saying this in 2020 is a certifiable act, but I’ve hit a sense of equilibrium. The years have been a frenzy of hospital stays, doctor appointments, helping mom with her exercises, making sure she ate properly etc. Anyone who’s taken care of an aging parent gets it, without further explanation.

Now, I have time to .. do nothing. Sit on the balcony and just watch the sun set or prop my feet up, with a glass of wine one hand and a trashy novel in the other. All knowing I no longer worry whether mom is okay. Don’t misunderstand. I would give anything to have her back. I miss her so much, it physically hurts at times. But that isn’t what reality allows. Mom had fun. We had fun. Together. We muddled along through her illnesses and had a lot of laughs along the way.

It’s just me. Me and the million thoughts that run through my brain all the time. Mom had things left unsaid. She wanted to share her thoughts with you and she was cheated out of that chance. I’ve been reflecting on that a lot over the past week. It seemed so unfair. But, as mom would say, no one promised fairness in life. She was very much a working class philosopher, in her own way. I was lucky. I had to chance to listen to her and understand her life and struggles. So, I’m going to share my thoughts on what mom told me over the years, especially the last 4 years. Much of it will be seen through my personal lens. I’m not as kind hearted as mom so much of what I say may be a little more cynical than mom would have been.

Mom had a soft heart. Well, except when it came to Trump. Whoa! Talk about swear like a sailor. My mom, at 83, would rail against her contemporaries for being blind and selfish fools for supporting his style of politics. She was more concerned with the younger generations and what kind of world they will have, than she was herself. If she could have, Mom would have put on a pair of steel toed boots and kicked a lot of asses. She was peculiar.

And funny.

And fierce.

Life dealt her a pretty crappy hand. But she was able to be something I’ve never managed. Despite it all, she remained a contrarian optimist. I know, sounds like a contradiction, but stick with me over the weeks as I tell you about her, myself and our world view. I’m debating about keeping the vlog portion. I’m not very patient when it comes to editing. It was something mom really wanted to do but cancer had the final say in the matter. I’ll likely keep it, for mom. I tried scripting out what I want to say in the videos, but that’s just boring. You can listen to anyone read to you. I’ll have to figure out a balance. Something between me editing everything down into a  bland pudding to a full on me glaring at you through the camera lens.

I tend to get mouthy when I’m off script. I’d love to say I’ve mellowed with the years, but the opposite has happened. I’m to the point where I simply don’t have many fucks left to give. Mom had a lot left. She was the optimist in the house. I was the pessimist.  We balanced each other nicely. Guess I’ll have to channel a bit of mom’s better nature before I turn the camera back on. Tap into this sense of contentment I’ve acquired. So mask up folks. Take care of the people around you and buckle up. I have a lot more to say before I shuffle off my mortal coil.

Photo of the writer at 60 years old wearing a mask with black cat faces on it

Buckle up, I have a cat mask and no fucks left to give.