My mother Peg Wilke died peacefully at home on Sept. 6, 2014. She was 93 years old.
She made me promise we’d have a goodbye party and nobody be sad. I promised. I brought the flowers and balloons, a cloud of balloons floating above our heads, above the coffee and cookies and punch in the Friendship Hall of St. James Presbyterian in Bellingham, Washington.
After the party, I brought the balloons home. They floated above my bowed head until gravity got the better of them, one by one. In the morning, I had a balloon rug.
In an old photograph of Mom and Dad that I love, she looks as happy as I’ve ever seen her, head thrown back, both of them laughing. She said that must have been taken when she heard she was pregnant with me. Which means she loved me for the 30 weeks before I was born, and every day, hour, and minute since.
Sometimes it was too much. Sometimes it wasn’t enough. I took her for granted. I moved far away. I had other things to do. Even so, she loved me for 24,000 days and never turned away. For 600,000 hours, she never said a mean thing behind my back. In 34 million minutes, she never walked off in someone else’s arms. The only trouble was, I was an only child. She set the bar so high, I expect everyone to love me that much.
She forgot many things, but never my name. She made me raise my right hand and promise that I wouldn’t be sad very long without her.
I promised, fingers crossed.