Day Three after Mom's departure was much easier.
My cousin Martha arrived from Colorado Springs, and she shared great memories of my mother's kindness to her children while traveling between Boulder and the Springs caring for our grandmother in her declining years. Grandma lived in the P.E.O. Chapter House there, and Mom was on the board of it. In her early sixties, Mom still had no grandchildren and enjoyed buying toys and sewing doll clothes for Martha's three daughters, Theresa, Gayle, and Sarah. She even stayed with the girls when Martha went into labor with her fourth child, Cory.
Sarah came with her and took over care and tube feeding of Celeste, including subcutaneous hydration. She and Martha also sorted and set out Mom's doll collection in the glass cabinet for display as more friends and family arrive. Each granddaughter or niece will be invited to select and keep one of the dolls, long-forbidden behind those glass doors.
Diane, one of Ellen's godmothers, called to say that she and Roz's godmother Judith would be driving down from San Francisco and Watsonville with another old friend, Deborah, whose first daughter was born two weeks before Roz.
At sunset Martha, Sarah, and I went on a beautiful, peaceful walk on the beach and then went to Mom's room to remove the last things--clothes on hangers, thirty bottles of Ensure (what was I thinking?), and kitchen cabinet items.
My daughter Roz arrived home in the late evening along with her chihuahua, Gracie, bringing a wave of happiness. John had driven to Long Beach to meet her Jet Blue flight.
Harried but stoic, John has decided to be the hero of this perfect storm, buying legal pads for To Do lists, making a schedule sheet for train and plane arrivals and departures of family and friends, mowing the lawn, insisting that the Asian chicken salad from Pick Up Stix for Monday noon had to be ordered today and finally doing it himself.
Necessary tasks happened easily: I called a local moving company at 11 am, and by 2 pm three men and a truck had arrived at Mom's room to remove the furniture and most of the boxes.
After a frantic search for the best photo of Mom, I showed up at my local one-hour photo shop at 5 pm asking for a 12 x 20 print to stand on an easel at the memorial service. I had the print an hour later.
The day had its humorous moments, however: at 10 am when Martha and Sarah arrived, I was still in my pajamas, rushing around straightening the house after writing a few blog entries starting at 5:45 am.
At 10:30 the doorbell rang and it was two young girls who started saying something about Merry Maids. I almost said, "No, I can't make any donations today," ready to close the door, before realizing that they had arrived to clean my house. John had ordered house cleaners, and here they were. I was still in my pajamas. When I finally started my bath, the house was bustling with people.
Fortunately, the Merry Maids left two hours later, having cleaned the bathrooms, emptied waste baskets, and vacuumed a bit. John thought they were actually going to clean the hardwood floors, but I wasn't surprised that that job still awaited me.
The hardest moment of the day came when I was skimming this blog, looking for a good photo of my mother. Instead of finding any usable picture, I found myself reading the first few lines of various entries over the past three years, and the full pain of so many difficult days of care swept over me. How did I ever get through it? How did Mom?
I'm so grateful those days are over.