Recently, a healing took place between my mother and myself. I wrote about it in my last blog post “Healing the Mother Wound: The Last Step on the Heroine’s Journey.”
My mother and I had planned a four day visit a few months ago. She would come to Santa Fe, the week before my birthday, to spend time with me and my daughter.
My mom told me that she had sent ahead a box with my birthday present in it. She said that we could pick it up from my P.O. Box when she arrived.
Now, as part of the backstory, which I discussed in my last post, I did not meet my father until I was in my forties. Part of the reason for that had to do with the fact that my mother did not tell me his real name. For years, I was chasing a phantom…a ghost. Then, in one fell swoop, I was given the cosmic password, by her, and found him within ten days.
He was an odd man, very kind, reclusive. He lived in his apartment with a formerly homeless, mentally ill woman who he rescued from the steps of his church seven years before. She locked herself up alone in his bedroom and he slept on the floor of his living room. He told me she would be considered a “throwaway person” in our culture. This conversation occurred after I encouraged him to move her out and reclaim his space. He said he couldn’t do that.
My father, Richard and I spent exactly one day together on this earth. It was the day after Christmas in 2012. We stayed in touch semi regularly for the remainder of his life.
When my father died eighteen months ago, his apartment was left in shambles. The homeless woman had died a few months before which triggered a depression in him and he checked himself into a psychiatric ward at a DC hospital for it. His brother, my uncle, had been encouraging him to move to a retirement community, something he strongly resisted. He was supposed to be moving there, the following week.
He died instead. I do not know for certain that he took an intentional overdose of insulin (he was diabetic) to leave this earth early or if it was of natural causes. There was an autopsy, and supposedly, he had coronary issues and other issues, any of which could have taken his life.
But, the timing was strange.
Astoundingly, he and my mother had a reconciliation in the last few years of his life, after almost fifty years apart. They spoke on the phone every month or so and even had lunch together with my daughter, their granddaughter, one afternoon in few summers ago, when Chloe was attending a summer theater program in the D.C. area.
The week before my father died, he asked my mother to come down to D.C. to pick up a few things for me. Two days before their meeting, his body was found in his apartment.
My mother went down to the apartment, to help one of my father’s nephews clean up the place. He had told her that he wanted me to have a vase of his mother’s, some pictures of him as a child, and a partially completed quilt, that he had kept for decades in a cedar chest. This quilt had been started (but not finished) by my great grandmother, on the boat from Ireland to the US in the early 1900’s.
Though unfinished, the squares were in remarkably good shape. When my mother took it to a master quilter who she was introduced to in Frederick, Md, the quilter was amazed. She pointed out the patters which are small and dark. She thought they must have been scraps from men’s shirts and woman’s dresses. She told my mother that they did not make fabric like that anymore.
For my birthday, unbeknownst to me, my mother tried to hire the quilter to finish the quilt. This kind soul would not accept the project as a “job.” She told my mother she would not take money for it. It would be a once in a lifetime labor of love for her.
She and my mother purchased fabric to sew as an under layer and she would tighten up my ancestor’s stitching.
My father and mother’s final gift to me, was stitching our small, estranged little family back together. I never was with them both in time and space together. But, they, along with my father’s ancestor, as well as master quilter, are bound together with me, in the stitches of this incredible gift.