Date #21: Bowling With Marlene (Mom)…

We just recently had a much COVID delayed memorial service for my Mom, who passed away 9/12/2020. It’s been a challenging several months because I lost my Dad on 9/3/2021. Mom’s service stirred up all sorts of feelings that I wasn’t expecting.

My Mom had a very strained and complicated relationship with my brother and me. Her relationship with him was different than the one she had with me, but neither one of us felt like we knew what to say at her funeral. I still don’t know if I could get up and verbalize something today. Maybe this Date post is my way of doing something like that. Mom was at odds with, and estranged from most of the family. To say she was a rebel, eccentric, or a rabble-rouser would be an understatement. She made choices that drove people away and even divided family. My Aunt and Uncles at least had fond memories of her crazy and rebellious spirit from their childhood that they shared.

Mom had been struggling with many health issues for a lot of years, but her passing was not expected. She would get sick and go to the ER and not tell anybody. This happened at the end of August 2020. I was out of town for my birthday weekend and received a text message from my Mom’s neighbor saying that my Mom was in the hospital. He told me that she didn’t want him to tell me, but he was really concerned about her condition and thought I should know. I reached out to her to offer support to her and to her beloved pets and she told me she was fine and would get in touch with me if she needed me. Her doctor began to reach out and communicate with me. We were all quickly made aware that her condition was terminal, and we needed to make hospice/palliative care arrangements immediately.

My family quickly mobilized and came out here to offer support, care and to be with Mom. It was such a brutally hard time. We all wanted to love and support her in her final days. We wanted her to be made as comfortable as possible and make sure all of her needs were taken care of. She refused to allow anything other than home hospice, which was rough because her apartment wasn’t in any sort of safe condition for people to come and visit, let alone to make space for her to be comfortable and give her care. She was a hoarder and refused to allow us to move anything to make walking paths from the front door to the couch, or paths to access other rooms in the apartment. She passed away 1 week after being released to home care.

My Mom had unique resentments with each of us in the family. Growing up with her was a childhood full of turmoil and chaos, and I often felt like the person who had to maintain a sense of order and safety for my brother and me. I could write so much about us. It was a rough relationship and I really don’t remember tender, affectionate or fond memorable times between us. I don’t think she knew how to slow down her roller coaster to take time to connect with us. I just remember trying to figure out how to navigate through the colorful and sometimes scary situations we always seemed to be encountering as her kids. We did our best. I know she did the best she was capable of doing. I know she loved us.

Mom was 19 when she had me, and 21 when she had my brother. She and my Dad divorced when I was 3 and she moved us across the country to Phoenix to be close to her family. She was a single Mom of 2 in her mid 20’s. I can’t imagine being a Mom at that age. She spent the following years sewing her wild oats, taking us along for the ride of a partying sex, drugs and rock and roll lifestyle. I’ve taken time to think about the things that I appreciated or admired about my Mom from a distance. This isn’t a complete list, but they’re the things I think of most when I think of her.

Classic Mom pic. She got a laugh out of it.

There was ALWAYS music playing in our house. Either the stereo was on, or my Mom’s friends brought their guitars and would jam. I thank her for my love of music. She was a very avid reader. I thank her for my love of reading because it started with her reading us all of the classic fairytales and progressed to me working my way through her library of a book collection.

She always had creative outbursts. It wasn’t unusual to come home and find she was repainting a room and including a 70’s/80’s style SUPERGRAPHICS flare, or tearing up the flooring because she was ready for a change. She LOVED to make collages. She collaged the top of a bar that we had, and it looked really cool. I thank her for my random creative outbursts. I’ll wake up and decide I’m making a pallet couch. Though I’m no photographer, I LOVE to capture images of my kids, crazy cloud formations and I’m very obsessed with the sculptural beauty of dead trees. It’s totally my Mom’s fault.

She loved art. There wasn’t an empty space on her walls from all that she had collected over the years. That appreciation is pretty prevalent in her family. She and her brothers were art lovers, one was an artist and her brother-in-law had a gallery. I’m not very knowledgeable about art. I know what I like when I see it and I enjoy it. My brother got the artistic genes. I thank her for the appreciation that I have for art and people with artistic talent. I’ve realized that most of my best friends are artistic or creative type people.

I discovered that Mom loved to write. I found a box full of her writing. She seemed to like writing poetry. She also had many notebooks of past and present journals. I thank her for my love of writing. I love to do it, whether it’s my corny blog entries or a tricky work email that needs to be crafted with precision. She loved food and was a great cook. She could taste something and usually recreate it. It was important to her that my brother and I be adventurous eaters, so she would take us out to eat a variety of foods. I remember falling in love with Kimchi when I was 8. I thank her for making me a foodie at a very young age.

My Mom was very tough, had incredible physical strength and was very resilient. She survived various situations and illnesses that nearly killed her. I thank her for my physical strength, the Wolverine healing powers that she gave me and my incredible resilience. We had to be flexible, adaptable and independent growing up with Mom’s lifestyle. I thank her for helping me to develop those qualities because they serve me well in this life that can be so insane at times.

We were exposed to many different types of people in her circle of friends from wealthy people to hippies that lived off the land in a school bus, professional business people to strippers, gay people, straight people, felons, holy people, honky tonk bikers, cowboys, creepy people, hilariously fun people and everyday average joes. It was quite the cast of characters and I thank her for the exposure because it’s helped me to be able to approach people and situations with curiosity and an open mind. Thank you Mom for all the things I’ve mentioned in this post and so much more. You raised me to be a good Swiss Army Knife.

So, about the Date…I came across her bowling ball when we were cleaning out her apartment. She had this bowling ball probably before I was born. It was a very intriguing thing for me as a kid because my Mom NEVER bowled, and I NEVER heard her talk about bowling EVER being a hobby, but she had this bowling ball with her name engraved on it in her closet. We’ll call the ball Marlene from this point in the post. We moved A LOT when I was growing up, and she moved probably 7 times in the last 15 years. I was originally going to find a new home for the ball, but seeing that she was STILL schlepping that thing around made it so weirdly irresistible to me.

I decided to take Marlene bowling for Date #21. She and I went to Bowlero on a really busy bowling night. We sat at the bar and had dinner while waiting for a lane to open up. We finally got our lane. I’m right handed, so I thought it best to give Marlene the right hand, and I played my games with the left hand. “We” played 3 games, and I think Marlene let me win. My left handed game beat my right. Bowling with Marlene is the most fun that I’ve had with my Mom. I know for a fact that she would LOVE the idea of this post-mortem bowling match. It would have made her laugh. She had a dark sense of humor, and I thank her for mine. She might have preferred the left hand because it was my weird hand, but I wanted to give her a scoring advantage.

I’m keeping the ball, and will always bring it bowling with me. Thank you for the fun bowling match Mom. Thank you for the wild ride, for the life lessons and experiences. Thank you for being my Mom. I love you.

Thank you for reading! 21 Dates down. I already have a couple ideas for #22.

5 comments

  1. What an interesting life you’ve had. Sorry to hear about your mum but it seems you have come to terms with it. A very emotional post and also positive .
    You could so easily have been negative after your upbringing. Stay strong and positive 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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