I finally got around to getting my rain jacket out of my storage locker, 11 inches of rain into the rainy season (better late than never). I’m strangely sentimental about this rain jacket. My mother gave it to me as a Christmas present about 20 years ago. And it’s one of the few connections I still have with my mother.
My mother’s second husband was a rich guy (so I’m told, I never met him). So she was flush with dough in her later years (oddly, my father’s second wife was also a rich person, so I guess after their often miserable first marriage, they both wised up the second time around). So for awhile, every Christmas my mother would mail me a nice piece of clothing from this LL Bean catalogue. For many years it was my only contact with my mother. Needless to say, our relationship was less than perfect. And for several decades I HATED her. But in her later years, we came to some kind of truce. And while I can’t say I loved her, I was at least mostly neutral towards her by the end, and even developed a little grudging respect and affection for her.
She lived to be 88 (I think, something like that) and was in pretty good health for most of her life. About 20 years ago she bought a house in the same town in Arizona where my little sister lived, so she had some family with her right to the end. My little sister even managed to pop out her first baby when she was 43 (just beat the clock) so mom got to re-live all of that as the doting grandma, which I’m sure was a nice thing for her to experience. She was of that generation of women where “housewife and mother” was all she ever aspired towards. So having a grandson as part of her daily life was a nice kick (oddly, she was never called “Grandma” but went by the name “Cuddles” — I’m not sure how that came about).
The last time I saw her, or had any contact with her, was in 2014. Around that time, she was first starting to get worried that she might be losing her mind. She started forgetting things. Or getting confused. She’d do stuff like walk into a room in her house, and then forget why she had went there. Which frightened her. It was the beginning of dementia. Though it would be about 5 years before she completely lost it. She had it set up so that when she was no longer capable of taking care of herself during her “sunset years” (as they say) she’d sell her house and use all that dough to live in one of those swanky retirement homes, or whatever you call them, where they got all this staff and nurses to take care of you. My older brother was a retired banker, so he knew how to handle all the finances, and made sure she got through her final years okay (there’s always that problem where old people sometimes out-live their money supply, but mom had that covered). The last couple of years were kind of sad. She couldn’t remember ANYTHING. My older sister used to call her on the phone regularly, but finally my mother shouted at her: “Who ARE you and why do you keep BOTHERING me??” So my sister stopped with the phone calls. And it was during the Covid lockdown, so she couldn’t even get visiters. It was like she lived in a dark blank hole during her last years. In the end, she finally stopped eating. I guess she knew there wasn’t anything left to live for in that blank mental state. And when she finally died it was just like an afterthought. She had already been gone for some time already.
But I still got the rain jacket she gave me. And it’s a nice one. It’s keeping me dry tonight.