Not Much of a Crier

Mom, age 30, and I.

Mom, age 30, with me.

I’m not much of a crier.

I sat in the back yard listening to R.E.M. after my mother died.

Crying has never done me any good.

Better to rock.

Jumping around to rock helps, too.

I learned not to cry.

I was sitting at a coffeehouse today when my eyes filled with tears.  I went out on the patio and wept. I had a sudden memory of the day before my mother’s death, when she rocked herself back and forth in pain, muttering: “I’m sorry” (after a certain age your parents WILL vaguely apologize to you), “I might die,” (“You might but you might not!”), and  “Help me.”

I helped her.

I asked the nurse if Ativan or Ambien might help her sleep.

She explained the morphine, instead of tranquilizing my mother, had made her hyper.  That happens sometimes with old people.

So they took her off the morphine, which had kept her awake and in pain.

And then the next day she slept.

“I love you, Mom!” Crying as I went out the door.

Two hours later she was dead.

She is the only person close to me who has died.

But the crying thing…

Perhaps if I’d cried more at the time…

I wouldn’t have become temporarily cyberaddicted…

If you cry when it’s appropriate…

The not-crying thing started at the funeral when I had an epiphany that there is no life after death. Perhaps the epiphany was because of the bad behavior at the funeral, relatives not speaking to relatives, etc.  I had another epiphany today:  there’s a 50/50 chance.

I couldn’t cry at the funeral because I hadn’t saved her. I arrived at the nursing home too late (I had been sick) to insist they send her to the hospital across the street.  Two years ago I saved her at an assisted living facility from someone who had ignored, or not been informed of, a doctor’s recommendation of hospitalization.

Strange how you can NOT know someone and miss her so much. Mom, the mother of me, the adult, and I had little in common.  She belonged in a Dickens novel (Miss Flyte, only with knickknacks and no canaries) and I am a contemporary novel by…  well, Frederick Exley plus Muriel Spark plus War and Peace = ?

But Mommy–when did she become Mom?– was ALWAYS in my corner, to the extent that, all evidence to the contrary, I believe I AM the best at everything (except sports!).  Yes, the best!

Thanks, Mom!

AND NOW ON TO MARY WEBB’S GONE TO EARTHA couple of bloggers (is it a male thing?) mocked Mary Webb last year.

But Precious Bane, her masterpiece, which won the Prix Femina Vie Heureuse Prize,is powerful and lyrical: her heroine, Prue Sarn, has a harelip but a very good figure, and when she is accused of murder, she prevails through her intelligence and friendships.  Webb’s style is reminiscent of Thomas Hardy’s, though three notches down in style.  Precious Bane is a romance.

GonetoEarth mary webbI read Gone to Earth a few weeks ago and have meant  to write about it, but what to say?  It’s a pageturner, not a good book, but an entertaining book, and it’s really just for women.

You see, Hazel Woodus loves her fox, Foxy.  She “had found Foxy half dead outside her deserted earth…. Hounds symbolized everything she hated, everything that was not young, wild, and happy.  She identified herself with Foxy, and so with all things hunted and snared and destroyed.”

I love Foxy!  I want a pet fox, too.

Anyway, men are hunting Hazel, one good man, Edward, a minister, who marries her but does not have sex with her (a mistake), and Jack Reddin, the squire, a guy who crudely rapes her in the woods, but she goes to live with him because she needs sex.

Instinctively she felt that she belonged to Reddin now, though spiritually she was still Edward’s.”

And then it is back and forth between the men.

Hazel is like Tess in Tess of the D’urbervilles, only blatantly sexy and much less conventional  Edward is Angel and Reddin is Alec.  Threesomes never work.

And Hazel is also a bit like Marty in  Hardy’s The Woodlanders, the poorly educated minor character who is far more interesting than the well-educated heroine, Grace. Both Hazel and Marty are working girls:  they do”bark-stripping”:

What is bark-stripping?  Hazel explains,

“It’s fetching the bark off’n the felled trees ready for lugging.”

This is Hardy for girls.

Actually, I could write a long defense of this novel, but I am not in the mood tonight.

Webb is obsessed with nature, sex, and symbolism.

The structure of Gone to Earth is perfect, though the style is a bit clumsy.

Trust me.  It’s not good, but it’s entertaining.  FOR WOMEN ONLY.

3 thoughts on “Not Much of a Crier

  1. Hmm – I’m still not convinced about Webb – probably because I don’t get on too well with Hardy, and also because Stella Gibbons has put me off rural venacular for life!

    As for crying – let’s face it, when are we going to be able to understand our emotions? They never work the way we think. Grieving takes many forms and I guess it is a gradual process, and the thing about time healing is probably true. I was devastated at the age of 11 by the loss of my beloved grandmother and it took me years of depression to get over it – but I did eventually. You were there for your Mom at the end as much as you could be and hopefully that’s a comfort.

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  2. It’s funny about crying. I don’t cry much, except that sometimes I do and those times are unpredictable. I didn’t cry when either of my parents died, but the pain was real and might have been relieved by a few tears. She will continue to come back, the lost mother. I hear mine in my voice at times and try to experience it as my unconscious tribute to one who formed my early life. You have a regret about not helping more — yet, you did help — and I have regrets about not enough patience, not enough of the closeness she wanted more than I did. You feel whatever you feel, but the intensity does fade over time, and it helps to accept that we cannot get though life without some honest grief.

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  3. Karen, Precious Bane is really good! The two earlier ones I’ve read are not, but I’ve enjoyed them. (Gone to Earth is a Virago! Will that influence you?:)) I did enjoy the Gibbons when I read it, but it’s really not Precious Bane-ish.

    And, yes, emotions: who knows? Sorry about your grandmother. That grief at a young age is very sad.

    Nancy, I understand your not crying when your parents died. Sometimes those who cry are not necessarily the best friends of the dead. I remember my real mother; I also now remember a better mother who is not quite the same as the real one. We want to love them; it’s so sad they’re not there anymore. Yes, patience: I didn’t have enough either.

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