The “On This Day” feature on Facebook is simultaneously a blessing and a curse. It reminds me of all the Bevinator’s countless shenanigans and Bev-isms throughout the year. But this particular week, it reminded me that she had an untimely fall at her house and passed away. That was five years ago today.
Five. Years. How is that even possible?
How have I existed on this earth for five years without Mom’s advice, her cooking or her endearingly insufferable desire to correct me?
Over the last few days, Facebook deftly pointed out that Mom went from bad to worse to critical to life support in less than 48 hours. That week it was as if time stopped, but yet—according to my posts—it didn’t. I asked for prayers, good juju and for somebody—anybody—to swing by the hospital with a Starbucks because I was losing my mind. Trying to console Dad had become a 24-hour a day job.
One of my earliest posts right after Mom fell gobsmacked me—in fact, it was the impetus for this blog. It was an offhanded comment the ICU nurse made to me. She told me that Mom mentioned mild discomfort but hadn’t asked for any painkillers. “Your Mom has a crack in her neck, in her back and she’s punctured a lung. If I were her, I’d be hopped up on as many painkillers as possible. Clearly, your mom is one tough ol’ bird.”
As tough birds go, The Bevinator was the toughest. (Even East German judges would give her a 9.7 for tough bird-ness.) She refused to suffer fools, always had an opinion and her oft-tinged commentary usually teetered somewhere between ballsy and brazen. My friends were always scared of her—until they weren’t. Once they realized that The Bevinator was always right (which she often was—dammit!), Mom could be quite chummy. And she made kick-ass desserts.
And here was Mom—always self-sufficient, always in control—in the hospital completely incapacitated. Boy, was she pissed.
One of our last conversations was where to find the Bev-bevy of Christmas presents stashed around the house that still needed to be wrapped. “There’s a sweater for your father hidden underneath the quilts in the cedar trunk,” she said through halted breaths. “You’ll need to wrap that.”
She hid a sweater. From my 104-year old father. In the bottom of a trunk. I asked her if it was spun with gold. “Don’t be smart with me,” she quipped.
True story. The night Mom died, I poured it all out. I wrote the world’s longest ode to The Bevinator—warts and all. It was a Mom Manifesto of sorts. Page after page, I couldn’t type fast enough. I was determined to stop crying, post it, take two Xanax and go to bed. Seconds before I hit publish, my phone pinged. It was my dear friend Steffany, a well-known medium here in Kansas City. (Yes, I have a medium. Yes, she’s brilliant. And, no, she’s never been wrong—ever. Uh, kinda like Mom.) I had left a message for her earlier in the day because I doubted Mom was going to make it through the night. “Can you just please make sure she has a soft landing to the other side?” I asked. At 12:44 a.m.—three hours after Mom passed—Steffany texted and said mom was fine. Her transition was smooth and peaceful. Steffany then slapped my wrist for the blog I was currently writing about Mom. “Whatever you’re writing, don’t post it. That’s between you and your mom,” she admonished. (How the hell did she know that?!?)
I still have that blog. And believe me, I wanted to cut-and-paste portions of it in today’s musing. Alas, I’m choosing not to include it, but it was quite cathartic to re-read for the first time, nonetheless. It was like my own self-help manual, authored by yours truly and, uh, co-authored by my now-late Mom.
Even five years later, Mom is still Bev-erywhere. I find myself catching a faint whiff of The Bevinator’s Issey Miyake perfume or hearing her favorite song on the radio. (Oddly, it was “Let’s Hear it For The Boy”—yup, from Footloose.) She showed up this weekend at a photo shoot as a persistent little orb—invisible to the naked eye—in the camera lens. In fact, she always liked it when I wrote about her—even though I forever pointed out her absurdities. I miss you, Mom. I hope you and Dad are reading this together and smiling. Even tough ol’ birds need to chuckle once and awhile.