Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Final Goodbyes

It’s sold. My mother’s condo in Florida has finally sold.

Well, almost. Soon. A matter of a few calls back and forth. Some posturing. A numbers game- I’ll give you this, you give me that… whatever. We’re close enough and as one realtor said to me, if you want it and they want to sell it? It’ll get done.

My sister and I talked. There are things that need to be packed. The final few decisions about my mother’s “stuff” have to be made. The condo is the last place that my mother lives on. Everything is as she left it, almost two years later.

It’s a goddamn shrine, Jeanine said.

Can’t argue. It is. When I went down earlier this year to get it ready to put back on the market, my sister had put up some “Pray Today” and Love God junk on the walls. It seemed so out of place in my mother’s home. Not only was she an atheist, the place was decorated to the hilt in her style- modern, abstract art, clean lines and contemporary edges. To see a country-style, flowery admonishment to get on my knees for God was just wrong.

Because it was my mother’s home.

My sister talked about how sad she’s been lately, staying there. I knew it isn’t a fun place to be. Beautiful views and a gorgeous beach to walk on were great but it was so filled with bittersweet memories, I never lasted more than a day before I felt the loss.

Now it’s time to go sign it away.

I have some clothes there and a set of dishes my mother bought after she showed one sample to me and we both agreed they were so unusual and funky, she had to get them. They’re all handmade, hand glazed and the most god-awful color green you’ve ever seen.

I loved them. So did she.

The whole “palette” for her decorating came from those dishes. It evolved and changed some but when she painted one of the bedrooms the same color green, everyone but me moaned in eye pain.

I thought it was kind of cool. Ugly, sure. But different. Bold.

We never fought there. My mother and I never once had harsh words in that condo. Ever. It’s the only place we did not fight in. Sure, we’d get on each other’s nerves, but there was the beach, or the pool or the deck- always somewhere to be distracted by.

I am and she was an ocean person. Our mutual love of the water left us side by side on the deck, sometimes silent for hours watching the waves. Look for dolphins. I would go far away to another place in my mind, but could always hear her breathing, or smell the smoke from her cigarette. The crackle of the ice in her drink.

She would eventually start to talk- my mother did love to talk, a trait I inherited without needing the blood tie- and I would listen. Sometimes, she talked about people in Rochester, or work that she was doing, but mostly, she talked about the past. She talked about family friends from long ago, about her growing up, about John Nash sitting in front of her in math class in Bluefield West Virginia, giving her the answers to the next problem.

His sister, now SHE was strange, she’d laugh.

She talked once about my father. On that deck, she and I talked about what he might have done. It was long before my memories, but I knew, I knew even then something was so very wrong.

She came so close to saying she was sorry. Walked up to the edge, eyed it and pulled back. It wasn’t about protecting him, it was about protecting her. She could not be that kind of mother who would ever let something like that happen.

I don’t think she was that kind of mother.

Years later, when I did remember, she wouldn’t believe me. It wasn’t about me, then, either. It as about her. Keeping her safe.

I’m ready to let it go, to let her go. The last physical piece that’s left of her. It’s sad, but it’s also time. It’s been almost two years.

The final touches on the offer will be done by tomorrow morning. The fax machines will be whirling. The realtor, who has been quiet and helpful throughout, I’m sure, will do a little happy dance.

And I will get ready to go down one last time to say goodbye to the only place I ever had peace with my mother.

Sincere, gentle peace.

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Anonymous Morgan said...

Thank you.

9:14 PM  
Blogger Bob said...

Thank you.

8:24 PM  
Blogger Bob said...

God, I admire you.

How do you do that?

11:00 PM  
Blogger Suzy said...

Love you. Hugs.

9:09 AM  
Blogger Sara said...

thank you all. it's an intense time.

time to go do some kind of ritual. but not one that entails burning the place down.

7:26 PM  

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