I Remember Mama

I’m taking up where I left off with my story about how Robert and I first met. When Robert met me in October 1980, my mother had been dead for about six months.

She died on her birthday, in the wee hours of Monday morning, March 10. She’d been in the hospital about two weeks and had been moved from CICU (coronary intensive care unit) to the ‘ward’ and in fact was due to go home Monday morning. But I got that fateful phone call about midnight. It was the night duty nurse. Said mother had taken a turn for the worse and I better get down there. I broke land speed barriers driving the 20 or so miles from our house in northwest San Antonio to Brooke Army Medical Center near downtown. They’d also called my brother, apparently, because when I stepped off the elevator, he was out in the hallway talking to one of the doctors.

My heart sank. I knew I was too late. The hall stretched out before me almost endlessly. And time stood still. My head reeled. My reasoning — in that split second it took me to exit the elevator and assess the situation — was that if Mother were alive, my brother would be in there with her.

The only thing I had to comfort me at that moment was the satisfaction of being right. Some comfort. I went in and stood quietly next to my mother’s lifeless body. Her suffering was over. So many years she’d fought a weak heart, emphysema, high blood pressure, arteriosclerosis. No more pain, Mommy.

The next few weeks were just a blur. I really don’t remember anything at all. All I’ve got is anecdotal evidence that I indeed lived and breathed during the next few weeks. I remember visiting the funeral parlor and picking out a coffin and a grave liner. My mother had a favorite silk dress, it was a sheath with three quarter length sleeves. The colors were muted, mauve, lilac, dove grey, cream, claret. I also found a favorite pair of gloves, also dove grey. She was set. Her favorite outfit. I was pleased about that at least.

So the funeral was planned for Thursday. Everything was in place. Except my dry cleaning. I had taken in several outfits, one of which was a black wool suit. Everything else was ready Wednesday evening except the black wool suit. Which was the ONE thing I specifically asked them to be sure to have ready. Ugh! So I ended up wearing a navy suit instead. And black shoes.

And the weather was up to no good too on Thursday morning: dark, gray, rainy. The viewing was at 9AM, casket closed promptly at 10. And my fricking car wouldn’t start. Ugh. So I had to call a cab and go rent a car. By the time I showed up at the funeral home, the casket was closed.

The real fun began in the funeral car on the way to the cemetary. Mother would be buried at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetary, next to her husband, 2nd Lt. Carl Mueller. And of course, my niece turned to me and asked, “So, Joni, when did you find out you were adopted”?

My mouth gaped open and then shut, like a fish gasping for air. I was blindsided by that. “Well, right now, I guess!” was the only answer I had for her. Poor thing, she backpeddled to get out of that one, but to no avail. The cat was out of the bag. I was adopted. And to find this out on this day, of all days. But my adoption…. was so weird…. A blog for yet another day!

To be continued….

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