Thursday, November 10, 2011

Last Wishes

“I believe you should live each day as if it is your last, which is why I don't have any clean laundry, because, come on, who wants to wash clothes on the last day of their life?”

Day 58

Yesterday I was working on my book and as usual what I intend to write is never what ends up on the computer screen and the book that was supposed to be about my struggle with alcohol and life in general is ending up being a lot about my Mom. I guess she thinks I’ve ignored her long enough. Lol So here are the words that sprung from the keyboard onto the computer screen yesterday. I guess it could be considered macabre but it doesn’t seem that way to me. Instead it seems hopeful and joyful and peaceful. The day I describe is nothing special, in fact it’s very normal…if I’m not drinking.

My mother and I worked in the same small rural hospital. Mom died there unexpectedly at the age of 57. She had only been sick for a week, she had contracted Legionnaires’ Disease somehow, but she thought it was just the flu and by the time we convinced her to go to the hospital, it was too late. After mom died one of the ladies that worked with Mom in the medical records department came up to me and said, “Don’t you feel lucky that you get to come to work every morning in the place where your momma went to see Jesus?” The woman was a walking talking Tammy Fay Baker wannabe and had the requisite poufy red hair. I wanted to scratch her heavily mascaraed eyes out.

Mom, I would have preferred that you had died in Las Vegas with the slot machine ching-ching-chinging right after you won a million, which is where you were supposed to be that week instead of in a cold sterile hospital room with the respirator wheezing and the oxygen monitor beeping. Or in Tuscany after having a delicious lunch and a bottle of red wine, that way I’d have an excuse to go there. Instead of the drawn, sad faces that peered down on you restrained in that hospital bed I wish you would have had a whirl of dizzy smiling faces as you danced. But I think you would have preferred to just drift away as you set out on your patio with the smell of your roses in the air and the birds singing among the leaves of our tree.

If only we could plan our last day.

What would yours have been like, Mom, if you could have planned it? I wish I knew.

What would mine be like if I had my choice? A lot like what I imagine you would have wanted yours to be, Mom. I’d be home, surrounded by the people and things I love.

I’d be in Colorado and my kids and grandkids would be there. I’d get up early in the morning and start a fire in the woodstove and light a pine candle. I’d go to the kitchen and roll out the dough for cinnamon rolls and get them to rising so everyone will wake up to the smell of them baking in the oven. Then I’d fix myself a cup of tea and just sit there and watch the sun come over the mountains. I might knit a little, maybe a new blanket or a dress for one of the grandbaby’s dolls. Josh would be up first and he’d sit and talk awhile before he’d get the itch to go drop a line in the pond. Matt would be up next and he’d sit by the woodstove and poke the fire, I hope he has quit smoking by then but if not that is where he’ll have his first cigarette of the day. Ryan will wonder in and ask where Josh is and think about joining him. The grandkids stretched out in sleeping bags in the loft have heard the noises below and they’re up and giggling and starting to bicker. I’ll fix scrambled eggs and biscuits and gravy and I’ll make the strawberries with heavy cream and sugar that are the grandkids’ favorites. We’ll sit out on the deck and eat our breakfast and watch the squirrels and blue jays squabble over their own breakfast. Fishing poles will be located against the side of the cabin, and some will head down to the creek to check lines that were left in overnight. The youngest grandkids are swinging on the tire swing hung from the old deer stand tree. I’ll grab my same old walking stick that I found soon after we bought the place and try to persuade someone to go on a walk with me. We’ll stick dog biscuits in our pockets and loop the binoculars around our neck and set off down the roads we’ve walked a hundred times before. We’ll wonder in and out of the cabin throughout the morning and fix makeshift lunches of cold cuts or leftovers. Later in the afternoon we’ll gather firewood and build a big fire in the pit and roast hot dogs and marshmallows. The grandkids will try to burn anything they can find and chase each other in a game of tag or play hide and seek until it gets too dark and they get scared that the bears will get them. We’ll sit up and watch the stars come out and talk about all of the fish we’ve caught and not caught and all of the nights just like tonight and tell the same old stories. I’ll leave my boys gathered around the fire and I’ll make my way carefully up the old spiral stairs and step gingerly over the sleeping bodies of my grandchildren. I’ll lay down under my quilt and say, “Thank you everyone.” And close my eyes.

When I wake up the cap’n will be looking down at me and smiling and saying, “Good morning, Baby.”

(I wrote this scenario with the assumption that it will take place several years from now and that the cap’n being several years older than me will have gone on ahead of me)

Here’s the wonderful thing, I can have that day right now. (except for the part where the cap’n has gone on ahead, thank my Co-writer). In fact, I had several very similar days just two months ago when our families came to visit. I can have hundreds more of them…..but not if I’m drunk or hungover. I’ve read so many posts recently from friends that are struggling to make the choice of whether to abstain from alcohol permanently or not. Just like I was, they are afraid of what they will be missing if they quit drinking. I want so bad to ask them, “What are you missing right now?” “How much have you already missed?” “How much more are you going to miss?”

So today I’m just out there doing my best to live every day as if it’s my last, jic, and hanging out with my mom.


  1. ..........afraid of what they will be missing if they quit drinking.............

    Keep writing Kary May, keep writing!

  2. That was beautiful.

    Terri from Ohio.