November 26, 2015

My mother's death, one year later

One Year Later, After My Mother’s Death

On this day in 2014, my mother, Mary Hinkson Jackson, passed away peacefully in her bed, at home. At her side was her dutiful nurse, Alice, and Sharon, an aid in training for Alice’s planned departure for a visit home to Nairobi, Kenya.

Although I planned to visit my mother later that day, she died before I arrived. Alice sent me a text message at 1pm or so, to tell me. Once I read the text, Jonathan and I left school and arrived at my mother’s house to find her body still warm and our daughter, Elsa, there as well-almost inconsolable. She had gone to visit and, like us, had not made it over in time. We each spoke to my mom, touched her, hugged her and kissed her. Our dear friend, Laura, joined us, as did my cousin Beverly and our friend, Rachel. Later, Beverly’s husband and daughter came too, as did our son, Jeremy, to bring us dinner.

What has happened in the year since my mother’s passing?

First, we had to clear out my mother’s home. Many of us worked tirelessly over the Thanksgiving weekend to sort and box her possessions. Many boxes went to the Unitarian Church for its holiday fair. Others sit in our basement and in Elsa’s room. We got the apartment cleared out and ready to show in less than a week.

Next, we listed the apartment for sale. It was viewable on line December 17th. It took approximately six months to sell. We closed on the sale in late June, 2015.

My goal was to use the proceeds from the sale of the apartment to purchase a retirement home for Jonathan and me in Lexington. I flew to KY many times during the winter and eventually went into contract on our new home February, 2015. We closed in late June, 2015, right after the sale of the NY apartment. I spent the summer in Lexington setting the new house up for our move during the summer of 2017. Our new home was made possible by my mom.

Alice returned from Kenya in late January and found a new job. She utilized the services of Sharon’s employer and was placed in a home in Brooklyn Heights. We keep in touch.

Elsa left for a nine month Fulbright assignment in Rio de Janerio, Brazil in February, 2015. She has just returned. Jeremy returned to college after Thanksgiving and completed his sophomore year. He is currently half way through his junior year.

My husband, Jonathan, lost his father in late September of this year. His dad had hung on for a long time, longer than her wanted to. We felt somewhat prepared for his death after our experience with my mother. The family had a lovely service for his father in Maine.

I have the support of a wonderful therapist who is helping me work through my feelings of relief, of guilt, of remorse, of sadness, of freedom, of loss and of confusion. I see her every other week and slowly we are unpacking the many layers of baggage I will carry with me for the rest of my life. I am a person who had a beautiful, famous, wonderful mother who, at one time was a happy person, but who also was paralyzed by grief, sadness, depression, epilepsy, and, in the end, undiagnosed dementia. These conditions had a tremendous impact on our relationship during the last 20-25 years. I’m working hard to remember happy times from before her illnesses began, but that is still a work in progress.

My mother and I had a very difficult time together. One year later, I think I can truthfully say that deep down, I loved my mother and she loved me.

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