Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Public Confession

I had a b-a-d week & it all culminated in acting out yesterday.

I desperately needed to be at my mother's memorial service in Missoula on Sunday. I needed to hear what the co-founder of the "alternative Catholic community," which I call Our Lady of Off-off Broadway, said about the years of working with my mother in the Church. I needed to remember my mother with friends from high school who have the same context as I do for her. I needed to see how my father reacted in the moment.

But I had a dog to board, a promotional video to do & a flutter since then of more interviews for Angry Fat Girls. My publisher is optimistic about the fate of the book. I am cautiously hopeful.

Not only, then, could I not go and everyone set the date in stone, but I didn't hear from anyone except my high school friends about the service or about being missed. I went to Mass with friends, who held my hands during the prayers for the community. We met another friend of our age for brunch & laughed ourselves silly at all the old Catholic stuff which we share an obsession with. I was happy until I got home & saw the emails from friends about the service, at which point I fell apart again.

Something burst in my heart yesterday morning & I blasted off a phone call about the timing of the memorial. I think Christmas is going to be cheaper this year because of it, and my publisher is seeing if the last line of the acknowledgments can be changed.
& so began my day.

What was big became venal. Daisy took a dump in a pile of leaves at dusk & I couldn't find it & didn't search very hard for it. Later, Henry took his dump & I was deep in conversation with a friend about how death opens up thinly healed family dynamics. No one saw & I didn't venture out to the ed of the dog run to pick it up.
I always pick up poop that can be picked up. I am insistent about this because dogs are in such danger of being hated in the city as it is.

The grocery stores had none of the free local broadside newspapers I need for the Italian greyhounds's crate but two copies of the New York Times were lying around the vestibule so I took them.

Petty thievery! The only thing I can say for myself is that given the state I'm in, the dogs were lucky to get a good walk & play time, and that the greyhounds are lucky I went over to feed them & clean their crate. This morning I washed dishes that were two days overdue. I finally put the toilet paper on the roller. I'm blogging instead of playing Monopoly, which I downloaded. Maybe today can be a little bit better. No transgressions today. Keep "forgive us our sins as we forgive others" in the front of my brain. I didn't yell at Henry when he broke my favorite bowl today. I've picked up poop. I wrote my sponsor. I am trying to be somebody in the wake of feeling my family regards me as no one.

But, Lord, I wish I had some gumption to take on a bathroom shelf or noodle around a new book proposal or walk over to the office supply store to buy bond paper. Beyond hurt, anger & bouts of impatience with the dogs, I am empty.


Annimal said...

I don't think you are regarded as "no one", I think you aren't being regarded at all.
I had a similar situation with my father's death. I received the call at 3:00AM on a thurs with the news of the very sudden death. The funeral was to be at 11AM Saturday! I had a full time career, 3 young children, and lived 1000 miles away.
I went into my office and frantically made arrangements for someone to cover my next week of work, cancelling patients, arranged flights and rental cars. As I was leaving for the airport, my brother called to see if I could wait in the Minneapolis airport and pick up my nephew who got emergency leave from Korea. He was flying in, but no one knew the flight number or time of arrival. Being only 21 years old at the time, he couldn't rent a car. So of course I said I'd pick him up. My daughter and I got into the airport afternoon Friday. We waited and waited. No info could be given me. So we waited in baggage claim looking for a tall blonde in dress uniform. Finally at 11:00, he got in. We stopped for breakfast and had a 4 hour drive home.
We got to my Mother's farm at 4AM. I laid down for 2 hours, then got up & dressed for the funeral. I wanted time to say goodbye to my father lying in state. The wake had been friday night, so the rest of the family had already had time to see Dad one last time. I got 1fucking hour. I just was not ready to let them close the casket lid. I sat with my Dad for the last time, exhausted, running on empty, and got one hour with him to myself before other family started showing up.
Mom made the arrangements to suit HER needs without thought of me. My brother asked me to wait at the airport, making me miss the wake, to suit HIS needs.The church made the funeral time to suit THEIR needs.
I don't blame any of them, it's just the way it was.
After a death people go deep into themselves, into their grief and aren't able to extend thoughtfulness to others. It can turn into a free-for-all, especially when there have been tensions that maybe only the deceased kept from boiling over.
Don't be too hard on yourself for one day of selfishness, but don't allow it to go on. The world isn't at fault, and not picking up dog doo just isn't who you are. Don't let the negative emotions change the essence of who you are.

Quilting Martha said...

Don't beat yourself up for being angry about the fact that no one considered you in scheduling your mother's service. You are justified in being angry.

Cindy said...

I think you are doing remarkably well under the circumstances. I am glad you are posting about it. I am a very negligent pooper scooper in the suburbs but in the city I try harder because I fear they won't let us walk the dogs on the riverfront anymore. I should be better about it everywhere. Hang in there. Glad you had friends with you.

Unknown said...

It is too much all at once. Please be kind to yourself.

Forgiveness is wonderful, but I have found it comes easier when the people I wish to forgive at least realize they have hurt me... not to mention maybe apologize.

A psychiatrist friend of mine invokes Albert Ellis and his rational emotive behavioral therapy; and yes, there is no law that insists our family members must behave decently; yes, we cannot MAKE people be other than who and what they are; yes, perhaps (PERHAPS) we can choose to be flummoxed by all this or not. The bottom line is: it still hurts.

You've been badly hurt, and I am so sorry. One step at a time. You picked up the poop; give yourself a pat on the back and relax now.

Poppy said...

I am so sorry for your loss. When my Grandpa was sick my relatives were at there wits end and everyone was fighting. It wasn't good.

I also want to say: when it comes to something as important as a memorial service for someone close you don't have to ask permission to go. You tell them. People will understand and if they don't, well, your better off not dealing with them anyways.

I hope you find some peace.

Anonymous said...

May you find comfort in that many of us have lived your situation. The first poster describes something similar to what I just lived with my mother's death in September. Your words about being considered as "no one" make great sense to me; I had been unable to find the words to describe how I was/am feeling, and those do the trick.

It's rotten and downright mean. All I keep thinking is why? I search my brain to try and understand why my birth family would rob me of a chance to mourn correctly...and I can't find a reason, other than to think it says everything about *them* and nothing, absolutely nothing about me.

I completely understand your feelings of anger. It feels shitty to be dismissed. My god...we are the daughters! Give us the opportunity to be present and find some sort of closure!

Anonymous said...


Neighbor here -- so sorry for your loss.

I wanted to add I only get VERY upset when I feel something was in my control and I let it go. When I don't fight. When I don't even show up. Other people I can't control, but when I feel like I let myself down -- that's when it gets bad.

So let me suggest you first forgive yourself. You should have "kicked and screamed". You didn't. They didn't do the right thing, for sure. But forget them. Forgive yourself and then move on. Try to repair relationships. I know too many times in my own family tree when it's this moment -- when mom or dad dies, when the useless stuff is divided up, when the memorial services are planned -- that the sibling relationships fall apart and stay apart for the next 40 years. Forever. Try to avoid that.

People will hear you say, "I guess it doesn't matter..." and they'll believe it doesn't matter. About the memorial service, about the china or the jewelry, about the obituary, about whatever.

Talk out loud. Be clear. Start at home. Take action. Move. That's what I've found helpful in these situations. Take back the reins of your life.

Best of luck.

Unknown said...

Re: the comment above this one from Anonymous -- WOW. Wise, wise advice.

Bea said...

Hi Frances, Long time no read.

When I try to make everyone happy I end up making no one happy, and me miserable. You were tilting at wind mills trying to make it to the memorial service. Life and death do not mix. Either you stayed there and were a part of the death process (a wise choice), or you went home and took up life in grief again (a wise choice). There is no way you were going to be able to do both. As stated above forgive yourself, and forgive whoever you took out of the dedication. Take care.

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