Sunday, February 10, 2008
Georgianne Virginia Hernandez 10-24-46 to 2-10-06
Today marks two years since my Mom died. At 1:30 p.m. to be exact.
I decided to make a slide show of all of the pictures I took during her last week and share them and in doing this I now finally feel like the proverbial weight of the world has been lifted from my shoulders.
I think that in keeping them private I was locking away some of my grief, that now I need to let go.
This slide show isn't for everyone. My family is not really the norm- we embrace death in a way that is different from most, I think. My older sisters did my Mom's hair and makeup and nails for her wake; we had altars set up at my house and at the memorial and laughed openly about things, and cried just as openly. And we all took pictures. Pictures of everything- picking my sister Saca up at the train; all of our most intimate moments with my Mom I was there shooting with my Dad and Aunt- and it was the norm. If I hadn't been shooting it would have been weird. My family has always expressed themselves through art, photography mostly. I am so happy for that and comforted by it now, though in looking through it all I am overwhelmed with sadness and feel like it was just yesterday.
Photographs are pretty powerful stuff.
I also am sharing what I read at my Mom's memorial. I still can't believe that I had the guts to get up there and be so emotionally raw in front of so many people, sharing how I felt about my Mom. I remember knowing I wanted to share and the words not coming to me... I had the worst case of writer's block. Then all of a sudden it hit me, I grabbed paper and a pencil and just wrote as fast as I could get it out in one sitting.
Reading that was one of the hardest things I have had to do- I couldn't hide behind my camera (although I did grab a shot when I got up there of everyone) It was just me and my grief for all to see.
The other hardest thing was bringing Jack & Georgie in to say goodbye to my Mom. I was a wreck. They were kind of oblivious, I mean me crying was par for the course for them, my Mom was sick for so long it was just another day of Mommy sobbing her eyes out, you know? Those pictures are some of my favorites and I am so glad my sister Tere got those for me.
Mom, I miss you. I am not mad at you anymore for getting sick and leaving... come back and haunt me soon though, I need a good scare.
'My Mom has been sick for years. She has been in and out of the hospital, in the ICU for months at a time- on the brink of death but then miraculously recovering. See, she was always slow to respond.
When I used to want to sleep over Dodie’s house on Friday I’d have to start asking my Mom on Monday. I knew I had a chance if she ignored me- it was when she said ‘Go ask your father’ that I knew the answer was no.
So I’d badger away, knowing full well when to stop, when she was almost at her limit. I’d retreat, regroup, and then badger her enough for her to be glad to be rid of me. I have two small children and I’ll be honest, with nine, why wouldn’t my Mom jump at the chance to get rid of even one? Seriously.
And so this theme followed with her being sick, getting sicker and sicker and then recovering. She was so strong for so long but after years of this her body just couldn’t keep fighting. Now if her personality had taken over the fight she would be here forever. That woman could be sassy!
And so it came that we all were there on Friday with her, touching her, stroking her hair as she died. She was so peaceful and so loved by everyone there with her.
In dying my Mom released in us the power to forgive. I was surrounded by my family and friends and people who truly loved my Mom- all grudges and misunderstandings falling to the wayside.
She would have been so proud.
My Mother embodied the idea of forgiveness. Many people may think they are capable of it but believe me, if it were an Olympic event my Mother would medal. She always rooted for the underdog and I would tease her endlessly about it. It used to bother me, in all honesty, because I got good grades, made friends easily and basically was a good kid who did well. As a mother myself I can clearly see that my Mom had the capacity to gauge my strength and know that I was capable of taking care of myself so she could tend to those who needed her more. In doing this she nurtured and created in my brothers and sisters the capacity to love themselves, their families and their friends. Without the hard and true devotion of my Mom, who was relentless in her quest for supporting, loving and bettering each and every one of us, who knows where we would all be.
But here we all are. Together, reminiscing about her and her crazy ways.
At her wake I stopped and looked around at all of the familiar and unfamiliar faces and thought- this was just what it was like at her house- I’d come home from college and there’d be some guy sleeping on the couch who I didn’t know who had gotten kicked out of his house and needed a place to sleep and feel safe. All of our friends knew they had this safe haven to turn to in my Mom, whether it was an actual place to rest their feet or a shoulder to cry on. She was their rock, too.
Sometimes my Mom had a hard time making decisions. There was one time she couldn’t choose which nail polish to wear so she painted each nail a different color. In doing this her hands came to represent the life she lived, multicolored, beautiful and truly indicative of her nature. I am sure she even made each nail polish color believe she liked them best…. As she did with her children as well.
We all believe on some level that we are her favorite. She was able to see deeply and clearly into each one of us and see our good, true being. I used to tease her about this by signing my letters ‘your favorite daughter’ and before caller id I’d call her and whoever would hand her the phone would say ‘it’s your favorite daughter.’ Then I’d wait to get her on to see who’d she think it was.
It was our little game.
This is the true testament and legacy that my Mom leaves us… we all still truly believe that we are her favorite.
But really, I was.