A Death in the Family

A Soul’s Message

by Flora Massaro

My mother died recently, just one year and two days after she fell and broke her leg on the dance floor at my 60th birthday party. She spent the last year of her life moving from hospital to a re-hab nursing home to her home with a live-in caretaker, back in the hospital then into her final bed in a nursing home. She would’ve been 87 in a few months, and watching her slowly fade during the past year, I expected her death, we talked about it, we were prepared . . . Yet when it happened, her death came as a surprise and I was so unprepared in so many ways.

I was in Prescott at her house a few weeks ago, saw all her possessions price-tagged, ready to be sold at an estate sale. Looking around at it all, I thought, is this all that 86 years of life boils down to, just 25 cents each for books that shaped her ideas and expanded her mind . . .? Only $5 for the pretty pink dress she danced so happily in at her granddaughter’s wedding . . .? The Dutch oven was tagged at a few dollars–she got it as a wedding present, and for 68 years, cooked batches of beans in it to stretch over several meals for us, and hearty pot roasts for family dinners. I remembered the time she used it to create a special birthday dinner, coq au vin, and for a great presentation, she wanted to flambé it at the table . . . She poured wine or brandy over it, touched a match to it and fwhoosh! In my child eyes, the resulting flame looked like it leaped up to the light fixture. She had to run back into the kitchen to get the pot lid and dish towels to smother the fire and then we laughed because the entire chicken in that pot ended up as “dark” meat.

Now she was gone, her life her was reduced to just things, discounted,

and meaningless now to anyone who didn’t know her. I saw the material detritus of a well-used life,

I was there again last weekend, “camping out” on a blow-up mattress in her empty house. Sitting on the deck outside, I had only the mountains and stars to look at and the memories of my mom and our time together. In the last few years her memory failed and her speech and step faltered. I wished now that I’d shown her more patience, called her more often then. Of course I wish I’d spent more time with her, laughing, talking . . . If I had, I would’ve asked more, learned more, and enjoyed so much more of her.

photo credit: http://more.com


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