This is an away-from-Columbus entry, at a motel in Athens, Ohio. I’m typing with one eye on the 11 o’clock news, sitting on a bed at the Budget Host-Coach Inn. Susie is asleep on a rollaway cot at the foot of my bed, my cousin Karen is stretched out on the other bed with a can of 7-Up in her hand.
The memorial service was a good one. Mark Belletini did a very good sermon, celebrating Mother’s life, background, and interests, and did not sugarcoat her faults–her insanity, her substance abuse, her physical and mental abuse of me. Many of the people who attended were friends of ours who had never met Mother, but came to support us nonetheless. My friend Tom, whom I’ve known since 1977 when I was in junior high, came from Marietta for the memorial service. We weren’t sure if he’d make it, because he is not famous for having functional vehicles. But he arrived.
As did Karen, who arrived around 4:15. The service was in the Memorial Garden at the Unitarian Church, and Karen and Tom came back to our place for dinner afterwards. Over chicken breasts, rice, and peas, Tom caught me up on Marietta politics and gossip, and gave Susie (belatedly) her birthday presents. Karen is an O.R. nurse in Virginia, so she gave us her slant on the many trials and tribulations Steph has undergone before and after the heart surgery. (Tom’s pickup, which he bought used, has Obama/Biden stickers he provided, and he kept the Bush/Cheney sticker that came with the truck. He donated an Obama yard sign to us.)
Karen, Susie, and I left for Athens to do an early reconnaissance mission through my mother’s apartment. I’m glad her car has a GPS–I have been back and forth on U.S. 33 literally thousands of times in my life, but it’s been quite awhile, and I recognized almost none of the landmarks along the way. It would probably have been different–and much easier–during the daytime.
The apartment was quite Spartan. All those years on the brink of death, she minimized her belongings and kept her affairs in order. When we unlocked the apartment, there were stacks of papers, neatly organized and marked, with financial information, medical records, lists of bills to be paid, etc. The furniture was quite simple, with the exception of the bed. Susie and I are taking the electrical components–TV, stereo, boom box, VCR/DVD combination, etc.–and giving clothes and furniture to the Salvation Army. Mother kept reams and reams of documents related to her medical care, such as records of her blood pressure and temperature, reports from trips to various E.R.s, etc.
So this crazy day has wound down. It began with chaos. Steph and Susie took Project Mainstream to the Unitarian Church because Susie (and the rest of Rising Voices) sang at the 9 a.m. service. I was going to take the regular bus up there and meet them in time for the service, but since Barack Obama was speaking at the State House, buses were rerouted, running behind schedule, or cancelled. So I went home, straightened the living room, and did the dishes.
Karen has finished her 7-Up and seems to have fallen asleep. Susie conked out quite awhile ago, and I probably should follow their lead. Karen and I will finish taking what is usable and useful out of the apartment tomorrow, and then meet with the powers that be at the Hocking Valley Bank to deal with all things financial. We’re afraid, however, that our hands may be tied, since Mother’s doctor can’t sign the death certificate until Tuesday. (On Saturday, Ken from the funeral home came by and I signed and initialed the documents authorizing cremation. So, while Mother’s remains weren’t present at the Unitarian Church this afternoon, she will be cremated in Marietta and interred in the family plot at Caldwell.)