I am a childless woman by choice, and somewhat eccentric, and rather childlike myself. I think that not being a parent makes you less mature and more focused on selfish pursuits instead of say, regular meals and bedtime and general responsibility toward other people if you don’t fill that space with other people. When my mother used to ask me about grandbabies, I said that I would be glad to provide them if I could leave them for the weekend with a food bowl and a litterbox. So, she accepted the grandkits as her grandbabies from my side of the family.

With a beginning like that, I guess that this will be a different year end wrap up than the others. I didn’t mean to start out with that. It just happened.

I lost my mother in June. I lost my father in 1986. Nothing makes you grow up faster than when you no longer have your parents to turn to, whether through death or disease or having to become their caretakers.

I no longer have to dread this event – this life without her. It has happened.

I no longer have to worry about how long she would be able to live independently, how a nursing home might be paid for, whether she might have to be moved away from the community she loved, how her suffering would increase from day to day, both physically and mentally.

I no longer have to dread inheriting her home with my sister. It has happened. It is not fun. It is full of hoarded magazines, packed closets, knick-knacks from the 1950s, one hundred thousand pieces of paper that have to be inspected, empty frames and matboard under the beds, and requires that we pay extra bills in utilities, taxes, and maintenance for an unknown, probably years-long, amount of time in a poor county where I no longer wish to live and where houses take years to sell for far under their value.

It is full of memories and surprises and love.

It is full of how much I am like her, and how much we differ.

It is full of her humanity, her soul, her seventy years living in the same house as a wife, mother, artist, Christian, widow, traveler, community leader, friend, girlfriend, and independent woman.

Is it any wonder that I feel overwhelmed? Thank God I am not facing this alone. Without my sister and brother I don’t know how I’d do it.

Looks like I will have to make this year end post a four-parter.