First scraps of memory wander, so as to never get lost. They are always around, inside, somewhere, appearing when I might least expect. Barely big enough to walk, I crawl through front verandah slats, edge slowly along the outside edge to steps, avoiding baby-gate. The verandah far too high to jump. Once the steps and down, I made my break. How small I would have been. The story of one time I escaped, found later in a field, tearing fresh grass to feed a cow that was down, unable to get up. I recall the tear, the crunch as grass tore from the ground in my hands, and the wet chewing sounds she made. How worried my parents would have been, that something might have happened. I was so small. Two thousand pounds of meat and muscle, flesh and bone. I remember thinking, she unable to rise and feed herself, my only choice was to help.
Playing perhaps only with surfaces. Stories I ask for from her two remaining siblings, seeking clarification, most of which left unanswered. Unacknowledged. Perhaps asking too much, asking too much at once. Once or twice a year, routine of asking to be removed from an uncle’s email forwarding list of chain letters, “joke” emails. I have no interest or time. Why can’t, I asked him once, you ever send me messages telling me about how you are, your wife, your daughter, grandchildren? Why do you never seem interested in conversation, in what the rest of us are doing? Six months of compliance before the jokes return, the usual silences begun again, accumulating.
October 2010: woke up spoiled, late. Checked email, waited for morning mail, walked down to coffeeshop for newspapers. Allowing as little work as I could get away with, to process the full spectrum of grief. The previous evening, listening to PJ Harvey on YouTube sing, “Is that all there is?” A simple torch song, reminded some weeks ago by Homer Simpson, a repeat of The Simpsons. I put the link to her lovely little cover on my Facebook page, electronically etched upon my wall, adding three-line Leonard Cohen-influenced caveat: “pj harvey / please find me / I am finally 40.” Cohen wrote his on a wall in a combination of performance and earnest desperation, and I suppose I did as well. Is that all there possibly is?
Four months before I was born, “Is that all there is?” The song Peggy Lee recorded in November, 1969; not the first version, but one of a nearly half-dozen during a two-year stretch, and the one my mother would have certainly known, number eleven on the American pop singles chart. It was her first Top 40 hit since eleven years past, singing “Fever.”
Homer Simpson, come find me. The state at which rest is just restless. My mother, a study in motion, now that she gone. At rest; not dead, but only sleeping.