The week after his death, I had the chance to go out of town for a little relaxation. It helped enormously. It was more than a mental relief, I could actually feel my body along with my spirit lighten. Yesterday, mom had her moment of release.
She took the bus to Atlantic City.
Let me tell you about my mother. She and my dad eloped the day after she turned eighteen. From that day until his death, there wasn't a day in her life that did not center on my dad, my brother or me. Every day for the last 110 days of his life, she spent 3-4 hours beside him in the hospital. The one truth I knew as I grew up was that my parents loved each other as much as was humanly possible. They were inseparable, they walked hand-in-hand...always, and my father told me for years, he prayed every night he would die first, because he would die of a broken heart without her. Thankfully, his prayer was answered.
Since his passing, my mother has handled everything with grace and dignity. She has adjusted to a new life. She is living alone for the first time. Her time is her own. For the first time, there is no one to look after, cook dinner for, or discuss a decision with. And she is doing just fine.
Never having something usually means you can't miss it, so she never really knew what it was like to enjoy being alone. Given a choice, she would give anything to have her husband back, but we don't have that option. What she has chosen however, is to live. For herself, and for the memory of the love of a man she was married to for sixty-four years.
So yesterday, I dropped her off and watched her get on a tour bus and get on with her life. My parents loved going to AC, mom more than dad. His joy was taking her there. Their last trip was in January, they both knew it would be the last time...the trip was too exhausting for my dad. As my father's health failed and we knew his time was short, my mother and I would talk about her returning to AC. She knew she would go back...good for you mom.
When I walked into her home yesterday to pick her up, her face was brighter, her gait was lighter. She had done all she could for him, it was time to do for herself.
The bus pulled back in after dark last night. As she walked toward me with the biggest smile, I asked if she had a good day. "Kat" she said, "I had the most relaxing day." And there it was. It wasn't about having fun or gambling. It was about getting on with her life and letting go of the stress.
A new independent woman. At 82, she's learning to fly.