February, 2010, my mother died. It was a Thursday. Our son, Jim, was in Florida, had just moved and had still not let us know his new address. Jim was close to his grandmother and took care of her for about five years while she had dementia. He was probably the one person in the family who got along with her. He laughed at her jokes, teased her, and seemed to understand her and her motives in a way that was illusive to most of the family, including me. After her mastectomy, Jim took care of her incision site and nursed her back to health. He took her for tacos on Tuesdays as well as to her doctor’s appointments. Since I had managed Mom’s money for 13 years, there was a tension between us as I insisted to pay for things that she had decided were unnecessary, like fire insurance for her house or the car payments for her Acura. Jim helped me to notice how I was important to her in spite of her penchant for harsh words.
At the end of Mom’s life, she went on conservatorship with a conservator, Christine, who did not like Jim, his hippie ways, or that he had brought a mother cat with kittens into the home. In a clash between the world of rules and the world of the unconventional, Christine, a sergeant in command, decided that Jim was a problem and had to go. Before a month was over, she had fired him, and Jim moved to Florida to live with a friend. Mom died six months later. Since he had moved a week before, I didn’t have his new address, and I had no way to reach him. The one phone number he had given me had been disconnected.
Jim deeply loved his grandmother and would want to participate in the funeral, would be devastasted if he could not. But he didn’t know, and the funeral couldn’t wait.
On Saturday, two days after Mom died, Jim went to the post office to send me a letter I had requested of him several months earlier for a Christmas present I had put together for his grandmother. This was a second book that I had put together for Mom, this one mostly pictures. It was now February. Jim arrived at the post office 15 minutes after it had closed. A kind person there showed him how to self send the letter by overnight delivery.
I received his letter Monday around noon with a return address on it. I had two cancellations that afternoon so I was able to rush to the post office and overnight to him a letter telling him that his grandmother had died. Tuesday afternoon, after work, instead of going to his Capoiera class, which he would typically do, he went home, read my letter, and called me. We cried together, and I arranged for him to fly to Sacramento. Wednesday he flew into town, Thursday we had the viewing, Friday we buried my mother.
Coincidences? Maybe. Beyond coincidence? My mother manipulating (as was her way) the cosmos? God’s blessings? I don’t know. What I do know is that Mom would have wanted Jim at her funeral. I wanted that, too. Having Jim join us, against unthinkable odds, I felt her presence, her satisfaction, her smile that the entire family was able to join together to bid her farewell.