If you're wondering why wehaven't posted in a while, it's because a lot of crap hase been going on. New projects at our day jobs, much needed home projects, and on big thing. Last month, our mother, aka Mom-Mom Penguin passed away. It was not a complete suprise, but was still sudden and unexpected. Sepsis can take you quickly. She was planning the the household organization and giving out todo lists an hours before her final trip to the ICU.
You don't have to be physically strong to be the strongest person in the room.
Dad died in one of those car accidents that will always be a mystery. It was a clear autumn morning day on a stretch of road that he'd driven down almost daily for most of his life. He drifted off and hit a tree. He was cut out of the car and helivaced out, but was DOA at the hospital. Mom was at the scene of the crash that afternoon doing her own investigation of what may have happened. She even interviewed the one witnesses. What is appropriate for conversation varies from family to family and group to group. I can remember the first time I brought my would-be wife home to meet the parents. Mom was the triage nurse at the local university health center. Needless to say, the students were always creative at finding ways to injure or infect themselves and Mom could always be counted on for an interesting story, And by interesting, I mean the find of thinng to make any adolescent boy squirm in his seat, power down his veggies, and ask to be excused to go do his chores in record time.
I'd survived adolescence by the evening of this story, but Mom's story's were done embarassing me. On this evening, the story centered around an argument with a student who had an infected piercing. This is probably an at least weekly argument at any university health center. The medical professionals want to remove the stud to let the infection heal, and the student doesn't want to remove it because then it will heal closed and they'll have gone through the piercing ordeal for nothing. Worse, if they're determined to have the piercing, they'll have to do it again.
I have to admit some sympathy for this student not wanting to go in for a repeat. In this case, it was a stud through his penis.
Know your roots.
My father's side of the family was one of those families that kept records. They wrote everything down and somehow managed to keep from losing it. As a consequence, I know such meaningless factoids like it was my 11-greats grandfather who first landed on these shores and built a grist mill on Long Island, and my 3-greats granduncle who was secretary of the navy for six weeks before getting the boot. Apparently the fact that he'd never actually been on a boat actually said something about his experience for the job.
Mom's side of the family didn't necesarily keep such extensive records, but they stay connected in a much more organic way. She actually knew her second cousin once removed. In fact, he's been a lot of help at this time, as have numerous other friends, relatives, and people who might be somewhere in between. Importance of community. One of Mom's first jobs after getting her RN was as the nurse for the local school system. Of course, this didn't give her much to do (or pay) over the summer. Her summer job was to do a survey for the county. Over the course of a couple summers, she visited every house in the county. Mom's superpower was that she could talk to anyone, and after doing this, in meant the she knew and remembered just about everyone in the town where I grew up. If she didn't know a random guy we met in line at the bank, she knew his father, mother, or siblings. There wasn't a problem that could arise that was too arcane for Mom to know somebody with expert knowledge on how to fix it. You have a bat in the house? Call the animal control, they'll know what to do. Ok. How about a big scary hawk that punched through the screens or your porch and can't get out? That's a job for Heinz, the falcon guy. Need to repair grandma's tatting? There's somebody who can do that, too. How about identifying an old painting found in the eaves of granddaddy's house? Done. Mom knew everybody, could talk to anybody and consequently could never run into a problem that she wasn't a couple of phone calls away from solving. I never thought of it this way before, but in a time before the internet, she was the town google.
It was an amazing resource growing up, but like most such things, I didn't appreciate it at the time. I only saw the down side. Any good database requires a lot of maintenance. In Mom's case, that maintenance came in the form of conversations. There was many the time that I'd have to go into town with Mom to "run errands." I hated these trips and longed for the day when I was old enough to stay home alone. A few "quick trips" would inevitably drag on with one boring grown-up conversation after another. We couldn't go anywhere without running into someone Mom knew and needed to catch up with. Now that I'm an adult, and living in a comunitee of transient professionals, and know very few and almost no one well enough to be comfortable asking a favor, I understand what an incredible resource my Mom had cultivated. I wish I'd picked up that skill.
Thanks Mom. We all miss you terribly. PP put it best upon hearing the news. "We'll always remember her in our hearts."