Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Today, Thursday, is my mom's birthday....

And it is a very saddish day for read on only if you have the stomach for sad.

My mom, Joan Bailey Hambly, died just before Christmas, 7 months ago.

Her death was precipitated by neglect and abuse from her primary caregiver. He was arrested, but not prosecuted because my older sisters decided not to press charges.

Her primary caregiver was also her son, my younger brother.

It still makes me sick to my stomach.

My journey through this convoluted grief has been intense, and supported largely by my wonderful beloved husband. And mom's death has brought my eldest sister and I together in powerful ways. We tended mom together as she died. It was holy time. I am so deeply grateful for that time.

My mom was a great woman and a great mom. She was an artist, working in fabric as well as with canvas. She used to wake me up and tell me that today was the day I was not going to school because we were going to the museum in San Francisco instead. And we would spend all day together looking at good art. She loved music --played opera full blast, country music, you name it. She loved to cook--a really great cook, and she gave brilliant parties. She was the first female chalicer at her church in northern California. She founded Home Hospice in Sonoma County. She was a nurse, graduate of UC Berkeley and nursing school in San Francisco.

This is my mom at her graduation from nursing school, 1945.

I am not done with my grief. Just not done. For so many reasons. But mostly that I was so far away and unable to extricate her from her God-awful situation. And while my eldest sister and I have grown closer, the rest of it --with the rest of my brothers and sisters (five of us) --it's all pretty much a shambles. Which adds to the grief.

I have kept a grief journal. Here are some of my entries:

I have not yet even begun to try to reconcile with my brother. I am just not yet there, because I know he will never own up to what he let happen, to what he did, --not just once but time and again, and I have to let go of that first.... and while I have catalog cards in my head that help me "know" what to do, I am still grieved enough that I could not be in the place to let my brother be in the place he is.

I am deeply grateful that in the midst of grief, I have still found joy and laughter. I have still found abiding peace. And my snarky humor is returning. Aloft.

So, I ask your prayers on this day for me and my family. And, if you find it comfortable to pray for the dead, I ask your prayers for my mom.

Happy Birthday mama. I love you and miss you.


Jane R said...

Oh, Margaret. Many prayers for you and for your mom, and for your brother for whom it is hard to pray (it's okay if you can't, that's what we are here for).

I am so glad that you have a wonderful loving husband as your companion, and that you and your sister have strengthened your connection.

And your mother sounds like quite a woman!! What a powerhouse of life.

And how sad and horrible that her end was caused by abuse and neglect from her own son. I grieve with you.

P.S. Got your e-mail at my work account, by chance since I am away from school and office till mid-August even though I live very close by, but I had to go and check something. I tried responding, but there is something wrong with the network and it won't let me send mail out from there. My home e-mail works, though, as does my "for public blog purposes" e-mail which I occasionally post. You can write me there at missmayapavlova at gmail dot com and I will write you back from the home account.

Peter Carey said...


Know that I am keeping you and your mom in my prayers today.

Peace and blessings,


FranIAm said...

Margaret, thank you for sharing this with us today.

Please know that many prayers are being said for you, your family, for the whole situation.

Oh the tangle of families, oh the struggles of love.

My heart is with yours today my sister. And I know that you know that (in this misquote of Annie Dillard) there is not any way to get to that damn promised land without the desert trek.

Pax to you my sister.

it's margaret said...

Thank you all. It was a good day, all in all. A holy day. And I am grateful for your prayers.

many blessings --

Ruth Hull Chatlien said...

I read this earlier, and my heart went out to you, but I didn't have time to post. I just want you to know you are in my thoughts and prayers.

And your mother was beautiful.

it's margaret said...

Thank you Ruth.

johnieb said...

One year ago yesterday my mama had an emergency operation; she had just passed her 91st birthday. She died August 28th.

Eight days later my sister told me; she said our brother forgot to mention it.

My relationship with both had gone downhill for about fifteen years; I don't know if I'll "get over it." I know I haven't.

Prayers for our mamas, and those they left, and for those that left them.

Caminante said...

Prayers for your mother in her new place, for your family and for you as you mend a torn heart. Your journalling is exquisite.

Paul said...

Margaret, I am sorry for your loss. The sense of loss never goes away but the sharpness eases with time. As she rejoices may you find consolation.

Thank you for sharing so intimately and beautifully.

Kirstin said...