We buried my mom exactly nineteen years ago.
It was cancer and I’ll spare you all the details of her illness as I’ve already written about much of them in previous posts of this Blog.
The funeral was actually a minor milestone for me. My brother and I had co-written her eulogy and I read it.
I had told my mom several times before her death about my plans. She’d always have the same response, “Oh you’re going to be too sad and crying too much to do that.”
Mom was sly. She knew about my fear of public speaking. She’d lived through my stuttering problems that had haunted me throughout my childhood and still into my late twenties.
We’d even laugh until we cried as I’d imitate what it would probably sound like, “A-a-and I-I-I’ll m-m-m-m-miss h-h-h-her.”
Yes Mom was very sly.
It turns out that I did read the eulogy on a sunny morning in the North End of Hartford in front of family and friends with my brother and sister at my side.
I stuttered once.
I’ve given at least ten or more eulogies since then. Look at me now. I speak in front of over 600 people every year at a youth sports banquet.
Did I mention how sly my Mom was?
It was a horrible week.
Eight days before my mom died, my Uncle Ray and Aunt Josephine came over to visit and in their own way, say goodbye to Mom. We were all there: my father; my brother and sister; and Nana.
Uncle Ray was my father’s brother and my Godfather. He was about 40 years-old as he sat next to my dying 43 year-old mother on the couch.
Aunt Josephine sat with them. She was in her seventies but very active and healthy.
It was a sad visit with forced smiles and goodbyes that were as heartfelt as they were final.
My uncle and I made plans to see each other the following week. My father walked his brother and aunt out to the car.
They never made it back to the Elmwood section of West Hartford.
A bridge on RT 6 had been under repair all spring causing traffic to use RT 10 through Farmington. They turned left at the light in front of the Silo Restaurant.
They didn’t get any further. A drunk woman went through that same light and killed them both on impact. She also died.
In the blink of an eye.
I would hope that my mom never blamed herself. I was just upset at the entire freaking world that morning. We wanted to get to Nana’s house before she heard about it on the news. We didn’t get there in time.
Before leaving the house I said to my mom, “See it doesn’t matter if you are sick or not, you can die at any time.”
Those words haunt me even today. I don’t know what I was trying to tell her. Maybe that death is so random. Maybe I was mad because I was able to tell her everything that I had wanted her to know before she was going to die but would not be able to do the same with my uncle, my Godfather.
It was a double funeral. Aunt Josephine was like a mother to my Uncle Ray.
Mom died later during that horrible week.
We have a picture of Mom, Aunt Josephine, and Uncle Ray sitting together on the same couch that night.
That was before we blinked.