Goodbye, Mom

You probably didn’t notice, but things have been pretty quiet on Cube Rules this year. It’s because my Mom died.

She visited Kate and I in December of 2012 — a tough visit — and then quickly deteriorated from then until April 14th, when she passed away peacefully in her sleep from heart failure the same day as the final round of golf’s Masters Tournament, her favorite. While her death was soon to come — she was 87-years old — it was unexpected. I was in Tucson at her house when she died and literally had one day to make all sorts of arrangements before leaving back to Madison, WI, my home.

From December to April, Kate and I spent most of our non-working time figuring out how to get Mom, a “snow bird” who lives in Wisconsin in the summer and Arizona in the winter, into a facility that could provide her support while still not robbing her of independent living. We found one and were preparing how we would move her back to Eau Claire, her summer home, and then moving her to that facility. Unfortunately, she didn’t make it out of Arizona.

After that, I’ve been dealing with being the Personal Representative for her estate — a disquieting role of finalizing her affairs while dealing with a rogue’s gallery of people, from family to creditors, to friends, to people with a purpose that has nothing to do with your purpose.

Because she was cremated, we held her Memorial Service on June 22. Kate, my stepson, brother-in-law and I — my immediate family — then headed out on vacation to a house on a lake with no one else except the 40-million mosquitoes that inhabit Wisconsin this year. We went to get away from it all and to, hopefully, gain some perspective. I don’t know if we did gain any perspective, but I can tell you I certainly didn’t think of work or Mom or much of Cube Rules while we were away. That, I think, is as it should be.

I have not had a chance to grieve. I need to put some distance between dealing with my Mom’s estate and letting the “responsible” first-born son finally have some space and time and perspective to finally let myself be vulnerable enough to grieve. And celebrate her life.

That time will come.

In the meantime, I’ve missed writing on Cube Rules, missed writing to people on my email list, and missed watching the latest ways employers are “working with” their employees. I’ve missed thinking about what we, as Cubicle Warriors, need to be doing to gain employment security. I’ve missed doing something that is larger than myself, my work here on helping people survive and thrive in cubicles, despite what companies think up next.

So, after a hiatus, I’m back. Not with a lot of swagger, not yet grieving for my Mom, probably not really ready to be back. But death is part of life and a life worth living means putting your self and your work out there. You never know where the work will lead you.

My Dad died in 1987, Bill passed away in 2007, and now my Mom is gone. As part of that family, I’m now really on my own.

I get to start over, in a way. I now have to lead myself, with Kate, into the future with no backstop of a parent. That’s different.

Start over I will, though. When I do, my life leads me in new and exciting directions. The directions are a little hard to see yet, but that has been my pattern throughout my life: start over and accept change as it comes.

This past weekend, Kate and I went to Spring Green, WI, for their art fair. While looking at the booths, I saw a great sculpture of a woman golfer and Kate picked up another with a women breaking a golf club in half in frustration for how she was playing the game. I thought it was a great gift to get my Mom for Christmas.

That was when I finally realized there won’t be any more gifts to give. Or phone conversations to have. She’s gone.

Rest in peace, Mom.

    • Thanks, Eric. Still processing it all while doing all of this other stuff. But, after being in a shell for quite a while, I’m coming out of it and starting to re-engage with the world.

      I’ve been following your Twitter work. It’s surprisingly interesting. Thanks for doing it.

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