Then I Sang – On The Death Of My Birthmother A Few Hours Ago

Boys and mama caroline 003

“For what is it to die but to stand naked in the wind and melt into the sun.”

-Kahill Gibran


My 93 year-old birthmother died about 55 hours ago. What does a daughter do? I’ve had a pedicure (orange polish), a haircut, cleaned the house (even my closet), and eaten only vegetables since.


I’ve bought new shoes, new sunglasses, and two Vera Wang scarves, and I’ve repotted six geraniums on my porch. I’ve listened to every sad song on Spotify that reminds me of her, particularly her favorite opera, La Traviata, “The Fallen Woman.”


I don’t feel anything. I’m just here like a shrub. It was a beautiful death if there is such a thing. On the last day, I brushed Mama Caroline’s hair and told her she looked like Grace Kelley. First, I hummed How Much Is That Doggie In The Window and Oh What A Beautiful Morning. Then, I sang.


I read her a poem I wrote in January about being undone by Pavarotti’s rendition of Nessun Dorma. I stumbled through the Hail Mary for the 20th time in a week but nailed The Lord’s Prayer.


I wish I’d applied the lipstick I found in the drawer to her dry, cracked lips. Also, I should have played Elvis. She was a Memphis girl. I was told the hearing is the last to go.


In the end, she died as she lived. Alone. Independent. Stubborn. Sense of humor intact. A comic tragedy tucked in a pocket like a blue rosary.


6 thoughts on “Then I Sang – On The Death Of My Birthmother A Few Hours Ago

  1. Dear Patty, I’m sorry for your loss–but honored to have you sharing these moments with us out in the blogging world. I loved the photo you posted; your birth mother looks so very grateful to have you by her side.

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