I'm sitting here in my mothers hospital room listening to her snore -- the only audible reminder she's alive, breathing. I wish it would stop. It seems nuts to continue like this--I guess I don't understand how one part of the brain could be mush and the other still sending the signal to breath - to exist.
My brother and sisters hover over her. They stare longingly into her eyes and hold her hand. They brush her hair and fuss. I am not compelled to do so. This, to me is just a shell -- I just want it to be gone like her spirit. If I get close I must admit to caressing her cheek or running my fingers through her hair. I don't have anything left to say to her -- anything I would say she wouldn't get any more than she did when she was alive. She was a kind woman, compassionate even, but she often saw and heard only what she chose to accept -- the rest, was trivia.
On Tuesday, I went to Mass at St. Al's. It was the oddest thing. I was sitting there in the dark chapel. There was only one other person there. The stereotypical older Catholic woman. Long skirt, conservative blouse, caridgan sweater thrown over her shoulders, a large cruxifix around her next. Neat, clean and righteous.
Abruptly the priest threw open the door and flipped on the light.
"That was abrupt," I said aloud. She looked at me as though I were a space alien.
"He's running late," she said, rather snotty, I thought. "I better go over the readings."
Then in piled another stereotype. I mother in her 40s -- denim jumper, birkenstocks, medal around her neck, wild hair with more than a few grey strands shoved haphazardly in a bun on her head. She was trailed by seven kids, the youngest of which quickly prepared the altar.
I watched them with a bit of awe, spiced with amusement.
"Say hi to Jesus honey," the mother said to the youngest boy teaching him to genuflect.
After that, a 20 something man -- wearing a "choose life" t-shirt -- a clean cut boy with a wedding ring. He sang the loudest -- knew each ritual. Again amusement for me. Next someone in scrubs -- her pockets filled with prayer books -- though none so tattered as Catholic MOM, but on their way, I'm sure.
I said there trying to focus on the lackluster homily by a priest I instantly disliked.
Several minutes into the proceedings, the Governor.
Well I'll be darned -- the Governor. Didn't even know he was Catholic.
At the sign of peace each of those Catholic Kids walked over and greeted me -- ok now I was warming to the scene. Wouldn't mind raising a few of those.
Then the priest corrected the actions of a few -- kneeling when they should have stood -- genuflecting at the wrong moment.
My amusement was complete at this point -- I dislike the notion there is a right and wrong during the mass -- People need to act on how they feel -- not according to some ancient rule written by a guy in a dress -- who likely never tried to teach seven kids to sit still and follow a ritual or two.
I walked away and shook my head.
While I needed the eucharist that day and got what I needed -- the man had confirmed in one fell swoop everything my mother hated about Catholicism.
I suspect she was watching from her perch someone -- giving me that dreaded "I told you so" shake of her head and tapping the right foot. And wishing, perhaps, her body would catch up to her brain and fade away.