While initially I was going to put off taking bereavement leave from work until my sister and I had figured out what to do with OSM, on Wednesday I was pretty much tied up with filling out various forms relative to the cremation. That ate up part of my morning, which I had intended to use to revamp and test some stuff for an internal play-through.
Mind went to mush. Paul asked me if I wanted to treat one of my revisions with plan A or plan B, and I couldn't make up my mind, instead dissolving into tears.
And so, bereavement leave. In most cases, folks probably use the time to actually attend funerals or whatnot. Barb and I are having OSM cremated and will eventually scatter the ashes somewhere in Hawaii.
Kurt, bless his soul, offered to meet my sister next month when he's up in LA, take OSM, and then do the scattering for us seeing as neither my sister nor I live in Hawaii any longer. But at this point, I don't know when we will do this. I cannot afford to go right now; Barb is still unemployed, and will not go unless her daughter can go, too (and I cannot afford to fly three of us), so OSM will reside in a closet in San Diego while we figure this out.
I'm a lot more upset than I thought I would be. I was never close with my mother, ever. I'm still not big on family, other than my little cherubs. And even so, they live on the opposite coast, and have lived primarily with their father, so I am not as close with them as I would like.
When folks tell me wonderful and warm stories about how great their parents are, I'm filled with a sense of loss and regret. I don't have many good things to remember. OSM was difficult, volatile, and often mean-spirited. She promised to embarrass me in front of any boyfriends I might bring home, so as you can imagine, I did not bring very many people over at all.
She broke dozens of long wooden chopsticks over our legs and behinds, making us go get them for her so she could beat us. Most of the time, I dreaded going with her to her friends' homes because she inevitably beat us when we got home for doing, or not doing, something...and the something always seemed to change. It was difficult to know what would set her off. Even now, I am diffident about going to other people's houses, or to parties in general. I suppose that inside me is the little girl who knows she'll do something wrong, and will be punished for it later.
Once, when I was a teenager, she handed me her various meds and demanded that I kill myself with them because I was worthless, and everyone would be better off if I were dead.
But, she did have a very, very rough life and I'm sure she did the best that she could given her circumstances. She put me and Barb through private schools at considerable cost in time and effort on her part, especially since our dad had abandoned our family before I even started kindergarten. She worked jobs that allowed her to be home when we came in from school, until I reached high school and she could leave me home alone. She made all my prom gowns by hand, to my particular specifications. She was gifted with the ability to see something ready-made and could figure out how to recreate it later, whether it was knit, crochet, sewn, or cooked.
As she got older and the dementia set in, OSM (short for Our Sainted Mother, which Barb and I took to calling her around then) became a different person entirely. She was pleasant and friendly. While I was still wary of her, I didn't have to fear the sudden and violent temper that she'd exhibited while we were young.
Then again, aren't all children likely to see their parents in a completely new and different light, once they grow up? Maybe she always was someone else, someone I never knew.