Is there a heaven? Are you with Daddy now? Have you come together as lovers again or as the sometimes-adversarial roommates of my most conscious years? Yes, I figured that out. For whatever reason, you pretty much left marriage -- although not the money, not the security -- as you took each step further in.
And yet you loved each other.
When Aunt Claire died, I described heaven to Colleen as a nightclub with red pleather banquettes. That's where she reunited with Uncle Connie. In that deep gravelly voice I love so much, Colleen said, "He was mixing martinis while he waited for her."
A comforting, pretty scene. Was there such a one for you and Dad? Was he mixing you a Manhattan? Were you restored to your best youth so that after that drink and a smooch, you could fling yourselves into "Elmer's Tune"?
What the fuck happens when you die, Mom? I need to know, even though Frank, in his eulogy for Dad, said his spirit had joined the stars, that we had to let go to let that fully happen. Those words brought me the first peace I felt after Daddy died and they're appropriate to Dad, aren't they? He'd like whizzing around the star nurseries and undiscovered galaxies. You? Not so much. I want to know where you went, where Frank would have consigned you in his eulogy. You were Frank's tool at St. Anthony's and Christ the King; that's what he focused on. But I have to ask: is that all you were, a sideman to Vatican II? Or did you have galactic clouds of your own to fly up to?
That's what's on my mind this Mother's Day, a year since I've written you, a year since I've blogged here.
I can feel you in a new way, living with your treasures. Thank you for packing up your jewelry box for me -- I sobbed when I parted the packing in that box and discovered it. Thank you for remembering the cherub candle sticks. I used them on the Christmas table with sprigs of pine and small white and red carnations. Jim remembered them as well.
I have felt you the last couple of days as switching out winter for summer clothes turned into cleaning the big closet in my office, throwing things away, packing up Grandma's crystal for Kaylie or bagging things for my favorite charity shop. You approved heartily and kind of kept me going because it was such a Mom task.
I have a little more to do but am ready to move on to the next projects I need to finish before I try to start writing my novel. If there are any plots hanging around where you are, could you send me one? I'll think of you as I write a version of Dick and the women in his life. He loved you as much as he could but he was pissed off that you added Jim and me to your love.
And that's one thing that Jim and I, at least, never doubted amidst your abandonment of the marriage, We knew you loved us, and that you loved us for what and who we were. You weren't disappointed in the whole of us, although I'm sure my smoking disappointed you and maybe my weight gain. Thank you from all of us who so tangibly felt your love -- Jim, Lisa, Tom, Michele, Jerilyn, Patrice, Rob. Lisa always says you were the only person who had unconditional love.
Oh, you'd adore Rob! He has inherited so much of his taste from you!
And Kaylie is graduating with her Master's Degree next Sunday. Lisa and Dustin have moved to Big Fork, so they're theoretically nearby, although we haven't seen each other since Dad's memorial.
I think you wouldn't have understood parts of the memorial but you would have loved seeing all of us together, eating, laughing, drinking, singing, dancing and loving each other. Only Jennifer was missing among the grandchildren, but that will have to wait for the novel I'm asking you to find a plot for.
Daisy will be 13 in two months. She's starting to age now and has kidney failure we can control with kibble. Jim thinks she has a year left. I know he's right but Mom -- I can't lose her. There will be no memorial for her, no eulogy, and yet she has shared 90 percent of my life and been the one I came home to from the other ten. No one else I've hacked and cried over while writing this had Daisy's claim for Being There.
I'll try to visit Lisa this summer, Mom. She took good care of your treasures and she's a good egg. I'm trying to pass on some of the family stories and I'll try to be better at that. When I was organizing photos, I marveled over the pictures of you with Jim and Dick as babies and little boys. It was good for Jim to see those pictures and all the mother's day cards he made and you saved.
Funny: I haven't asked where Dick is. I don't feel at like doing so either. This has nothing to do with hell: I just lack curiosity. Or maybe it's that I lack missing the comfort and the ease and having things in common.
Speaking of which, I've been filling out the other two sets of china -- Grandma Kuffel's and the tea set I bought in London. You'd get a kick out of that, I think. You'd definitely have my apartment sorted out down to the last picture hook. You'd drive me bonkers but I'd love you for it, and love you for looking around and saying, "It's very you, Francie. Very homey. Very pretty."
And I think those things are the only things I've ever wanted.