Almost Immortal: Losing My Mother

Gail Forrest describes the unique beauty and strength of her mother, and the pain of losing her in the time of coronavirus

I was convinced my mother was immortal. Mortality just wasn’t in her vocabulary and, at 102, I thought she was correct in that thinking. I began to wonder if she wasn’t a new kind of Marvel action figure. Step aside, Spider-Man, Iron Man, Hulk, Wolverine, Black Panther, and all the rest of you and meet Super Bea, the most formidable of all. Yes, that was my mother. 

A Day in the Life of a Super Hero

I watched her moves very carefully to see how she defied mortality. Her routine was flawless; no chinks in her armor as she went through a day in the life of a super hero. 

I admit many days seemed like her last as she would creak her way to breakfast on her aging knees. If you want to live forever heed this tip: eat oatmeal! It is the fuel for eternity. Every day she ate a big steaming bowl of the mighty oats.

Next was her exercise routine. Yes, regardless of her years she swung her arms, lifted each leg in place like a mini march and stretched her calf muscles. There was no stopping her as she soldiered on.   

Makeup As Oxygenated Life-Giving Mask

Then, slowly but surely, she made her way to her personal planet Krypton: the bathroom.  She would be in there for hours transforming into her super-power self. She meticulously applied Sisley foundation, Estée Lauder perfume, Armani eye liner, NARS eye shadow, Clinique rouge, and her most powerful weapon against mortality: MAC red lipstick. She always had it with her like a lightsaber to ward off danger. Finally, Super Bea would burst out of the bathroom like the best of action figures and take on the day. Her makeup was her oxygenated life-giving mask, much like Darth Vader. 

Sadly and suddenly, however, mortality struck. There was a chink in her armor after all, and immortality eluded her. It was a cruel trick when she was so close, or so it seemed as the years added up. What made this particularly hard was all those close to her: children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, friends, nieces, nephews, and sister, could not attend her funeral. 

Death in the Time of Coronavirus

Hers was a death in the time of the coronavirus. It was a double whammy for me, her oldest daughter, as I was not only devastated but alone to make arrangements and phone calls. Only my son, her oldest grandchild, dared get on a plane for the funeral. Tragedy took on a new meaning, as in another time I would have had to hold her funeral at Wrigley Field for the crowds I know would have attended.  

My son and I met with the funeral director who gave us the choice of a virtual meeting but we chose to make arrangements in person. Virtual is so impersonal and cold yet now the norm for arranging and memorializing a death. I could not have more than nine people in attendance and everyone must be masked and six feet apart; even the attendees were dodging death. We made the cut-off with six. Six! That did not seem real, but surreal for Super Bea who lived so large and had to be sent off so small.

Immortal After All

The eulogies were emailed in and read by one of her grandsons, who barely got the beautiful words out for his being overwhelmed with emotion. Her other grandchildren and daughter, too afraid to get on an airplane during the pandemic, had to listen in via FB live.  Six of us sat there and knew this was not the way a funeral should be for those left behind who long to be surrounded by loved ones and family. I know all my friends would have come out to support me and, truthfully, I needed them. This was no time to text sorrow-filled condolences but that’s all that was safe and possible.

So we laid to rest Super Bea, who appeared so close to immortality. I believe she made it — at least in the hearts of those she left behind.


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Gail Forresthttp://www.gailforrest.com
Gail Forrest recently started doing standup which she finds is a complete blast. Gonepausal is her blog and she has a book on Amazon by the same name filled with stories of her skewed, funny view on midlife and all its attendant surprises. Humor is the only way forward at this point.


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