Sunday, August 22, 2010

Am I OK?

Am I OK? My friend Soozie would say, “relative to what?” The question is not IF I’m OK. The question is how am I feeling, (happy ,sad ,hungry), or looking (fat, thin, curly). And am I measuring that by time, place, or emotional health.

So, in answer to the question and without further ado, I don’t know. I seem to be incapable of eating anything healthy, or for that matter in small amounts. When I look in the mirror I see some old hag looking back at me. (When did that happen?) I’m spending a great deal of time thinking about the past instead of looking toward the future. This is dangerous because, as my mother would say, “dead’s dead” (What is past is past – it can’t be changed.).

Three years ago we took Mom to Seattle. On the way home I cried for 5 hours and with the help of four, or more, Bloody Marys, coped with my distress. We thought we would deliver her west and probably never see her alive again. But that was not the last time I saw her. Putting her under Jeff and Els’ care added three years to her life. Now I am on my way home from Seattle, having packed and either tossing, or giving away whatever was left of her things. They were only things. But still, it was not an easy task.

I am not crying this time, and I’m not sure why. Clearly, this time I know for a fact I will not see her again. Maybe I’m not sad because I think she really is in a better place with far more people she loves and who love her. Not only family, but great friends from childhood and when she and dad were just starting their lives together in New Jersey. With this in mind, we received this note from a dear friend who expressed what we all felt:

August 15, 2010
Dear Iris and Jeff,
Since recently hearing of your mother’s death, (via Seattle) I have struggled to find words of comfort for you, while also conveying a celebration of your Mother’s life. If I had known, it would have been an honor to bid her farewell with your friends and family. Yes, she was a colorful character ~ a special lady who brightened so many lives. Rosie brought so much life to Everything... She knit that neighborhood together, long after we “grew up” leaving our block behind. She cared for my parents with a warm and kind selflessness, while ignoring their self-centeredness.
When in Boonton, I often did stop by to say hello. She made me laugh, feel loved and hugged and, of course, she fed me ~ The gefilte fish ~ I tried only once ~ but for kugel and blintzes, my Tupperware was in the car! What I will most remain in awe of, was your parents’ love. Rosie would kid around with your dad and hug him and kiss him as if she were a new bride; never as a caregiver, tired of that devastating disease that attacked her Milton. They will remain a model for all of us.

She often told me (as an adult) I looked “delicious” and I loved it, but doubted it. BUT, when Rosie told my children THEY were “delicious,” I knew she got that right! My grandsons already know they are delicious too, just one more little detail of her amazing legacy!

Since tracking you down via “We’re just sayin’,.” I feel like a groupie. I keep reading and re-reading reminders of her stubborn “ let me tell you finger wagging” and of looking ravishing and dazzling in the gaudiest of jewelry. And I can hear her raucous laughter ~ If she laughed, we laughed, hers was so contagious. I always left feeling happier than when I arrived.

I also reread you answerless questions on how we grieve. I read way too many books, before I decided they all seem way too generic. Grief is the most personal of experiences, and like parenting, it appears there is not a one size fits all volume. From where I sit, it is day by day for the remainder of our lives. You spoke of feeling empty, of not connecting the dots and of tears waiting to fall. Maybe it comes in waves. You answered your own question quite accurately, it may not intensify, but it will always be there. It lurks in some odd spaces of our subconscious and maybe the sound of dangles will bring some of your tears to the surface. I think you will find and be surprised by the “triggers.” (A glimpse of a well worn, woolen Phillies cap, worn catcher style, gets me every time! ~ but them I am able to smile and reconnect to a joyful memory of my son, Adam, in his most cherished possession..)

I did view and delight in “The Gefilte Fish Chronicles” ~ Rosie with her rosy glasses. And now, with your blog/blob, you have painted a wonderful memorial that brings joy and tears each time I read it. There will only ever be one Rosie Groman, and she will forever have a place in my heart.

Iris and Jeff, I cannot imagine the depths of your grief. May your paths be shaded with many more visions of her life than of her death.

I couldn’t have said it better myself, and probably won’t even try. We’re just sayin’…Iris


Jane Cooper said...

Dear Iris,
Your memory of me must be vague and only attached to a name, Jane Landau. However, my memory of your family is vivid. Perhaps not in "real time", but certainly able to conjured up by recalling the wall at the Jewish Center and the High Holy Days when all the kids left the sanctuary and went somewhere else to escape Rabbi Krantz's sermons.
What is clear is the memory of your mother in more recent years. Recent meaning the 1980s. She was the rock in my mother's life. I can't begin to tell you how grateful I always felt for the friendship of our mothers. Each morning, when I called my mother to be certain she woke up and each evening when I called her to be certain she was settled in for the evening, she reounted what to me how she and Rosie spent the day. When my mother was diagnosed with cancer, it was Rosie who was there for her at all hours of the day. God Bless Cynthia's dear, dear, friend Rosie.

Although many years have passed since I have had contact with Rosie, almost 22, I can close my eyes and visualize her regal beauty. Many times over the years I looked her up in the phone book, tried to people search her, and attempted to learn a means by which to contact her; all to no avail. After all, she was the one person, outside family, who knew my mother the longest and best.

Your mother was a beautiful friend and as my mother would say, "No one is like Rosie."

Please let me know how I can reach you. I live in Morristown, NJ and just retired from Fairleigh Dickinson Univerity in Madison where I taught psychology for the last 13 years. I hope you and Jeff are well and I can't express enough how your mother's life made a difference in other's lives, more than even you and Jeff can know.

My sincerest condolences.
Jane Landau Cooper

Iris&David said...

Hi Jane, I am send me your number. I wrote a story about those two characters that I'd love to share with you.
Biggest hug, so much love

Unknown said...

Hi Iris,

email address is returned. Is this correct address? Let me know!