Friday, June 4, 2010
My Mother's Obituary
The only assigned reading in the poetry class Richard Brautigan taught was obituaries. Those were stories, he said, about true lives. He never said we should stop, and, since the text of obituary is a never-ending story, I have continued to read them. This morning, I read my mother's.
It was very vague.
I think that may not be rare, but, in this case I was an interested reader who was looking for some particulars. I was curious, because I did not know my mother very well.
I do not fault the author. I do not know who drew the task of writing. It must have been difficult. It is even possible that my mother wrote her own obituary and the elisions are one final effort to take control of her life. My mother approached life like a grudge match. She frequently got thrashed, but the obit might be a final sneaky end run she hoped would put her in the win column.
Honestly, I do not know.
I do know writing this and making it public, even if it is never read, is a different choice than my mother made--or had to make.
I do know I saw my mother throw a cow to the ground with one hand on its horn.
I do know she made fantastic costumes for school pageants, including a dragon with coffee-can lids for eyes.
I do know that three of her children are dead for sure, and more of them might be.
I do know she carved a columbine flower from a bar of ivory soap when she was a child.
I will never know why she did most of the things she did--I will never even know most of the things she did, but I do know those particulars, and they seem to me to be part of a true life, so I wrote about them here.