Two years ago, I got a call before 8 o’clock in the morning.
Two years and just a few days ago, my mom was still alive.
Last year, I went to the cemetery and talked to my mom. Then, I went shoe shopping. That night, some friends took me out and I got more smashed than I’ve been in a long time. Since college. (But still not as smashed as I got on my 21st birthday.) I’m just sayin’…
Two years ago, I was in the car on my way to Fremont to a friend’s daughter’s birthday party. My aunt Carol called. She wanted to know how many tables we were going to have at the reception after my mom’s funeral. I said ten. Ten eight-person rounds. She thought that would be too many, and she didn’t want to see a lot of empty chairs. I was thinking that our family alone is about 40 people, and we’d definitely have 80. I remained firm in my decision to put out ten tables.
We had a rosary the night before the funeral. There were probably 30 people there. Family. Some of my mom’s co-workers. Our next door neighbors from when I was little, whom I hadn’t seen since I was in grade school when they moved away. My 5th grade teacher, Mrs. Dorsey. A couple of my dad’s friends.
The funeral the next day was pretty well packed. There are four sections of pews in the church. The middle two were almost full. That’s about what they’d get at the 10:45 Mass I used to go to.
At the reception, they needed to add more tables.
There was a table full of people from the Pleasant Hill Senior Center. There was a table full of my sister’s friends. (Most of her friends remained in the area after high school graduation. Most of mine didn’t.) There was a table that included my sister’s best friend from grade school, my mom’s hairdresser, and my mom’s manicurist. There was a table full of my mom’s co-workers, who must have had to take time off in the middle of the day to attend the funeral. (I don’t know if there was anyone in medical records for a few hours that day.) There was a table or two of my dad’s family – 2 aunts, 1 or 2 uncles, 2 cousins and their wives, 1 cousin’s wife, 1 second cousin, all from up north. My godmother was there. One of my friends from high school came with her husband and their son. Oh, and of course my mom’s family – 4 uncles, 3 aunts, I can’t even remember how many cousins, my cousin’s girlfriend even though that cousin couldn’t make it, my grandmother, my sister and her family.
My sister and I had just started planning my mom’s 60th birthday party. It was going to be at Christmas 2009. We asked Mom whom she wanted to invite. She said, “Just family.”
I still wonder why she said that. Did she think that no one else would want to come? I thought we’d invite everyone – her co-workers, her friends from near and far, her manicurist and hair dresser. She said, “Just family”.
I hope she knew, before she died, how many people cared about her. Between the rosary and the funeral, there were probably 100 people. And those are just ones that could drop everything in the middle of a Thursday. I know her friends from Pittsburgh wanted to come, as well as some family who just couldn’t swing the long distance trip. I got so many email messages and cards from her cousins. Almost every cousin sent something, in fact. And 2 of her aunts and 1 of her uncles – the only ones who were still alive at the time, actually.
Over 100 people. I hope she knew. And if she didn’t, I hope she was there and saw. I hope she was pleased at the turn out. I hope she heard all the nice words people were saying. I hope she knew, posthumously, how many people cared.
What makes me very sad is the chance that she doesn’t know. That there’s nothing after this life. That she died thinking she was a burden, and never had the chance to know the truth.
People love you mom. People care about you. People think of you every day. People miss you. People want you back. People want to call you and tell you their news. People want to wish you a Happy Birthday and buy you Christmas presents.
I hope you know all that.