Saturday, December 03, 2016

Comfortable in uncertainty

My Mother, Jo Gault Moïse (1935-2016)
Taken her Senior year in high school.  It was her
favorite picture of herself.  
Years ago, going through photos, I had an unoriginal realization that wow... when this photo was taken, I had no idea what was ahead.  Sure, I had plans.  Sure, I had some idea of how the adage, "life is what happens while you're making plans."  But I really didn't have a solitary clue what lay ahead.

This photo of my Mother, Jo Gault Moïse, is of the young woman I only got to know through her stories.  She had many dear friends of over her life. She married her best friend, my Father, Leicester R. Moïse. They'd been together for 60 years, and were married 58 of them. Dad is living on his own for the first time as an adult.  The first time he was without family was when he was 9 years old and his parents were having difficulties during the Great Depression. He spent time with all his Father's siblings, and when he went to his Uncle Les', he went to boarding school.  The next time he lived on his own, was when he was 17 and joined the Navy.  When he got home, it was to a house he had purchased for his parents, particularly his Mother, who'd never lived in a home she could call her own.  From there, it was to move to the first place he and my Mom would call their own, a small apartment.  He now calls home the small apartment he shared with Mom, after moving from their farm and home of 30 years. Prior to that, was the 30 years in the home where he and Mom had raised my three sisters and I.
Dad's favorite picture of he and Mom.  It was taken in England,
on one of their many trips.  

Mom's plan was to go to college, study early childhood education, so she'd be a better mother, get married, have four children, and grand children.  Life happened while she made those plans, and guess what?  She got what she wanted. She was a wonderful Mother. She was also a early childhood innovator, in what is now called experiential learning.  She started the first classroom for three year olds here in Jefferson County.  With Dad's encouragement, she pursued her art, both Calligraphy and Brass Rubbing.  I saw her as an independent woman, running her own business.  She was a gifted story teller.  I feel like I know the young teenager in that picture above.  Friendly, quick with a smile.  It's not a stretch, since that's who she was to so many people she would meet over the years.

In the end, Mom got what she wanted too. She got to die at home, surrounded by loved ones.  While having decisions made for her, and still able to make them for herself, in the quiet after the din of juggling schedules, working with hospice, Dad turned to Mom, he qsked her, "Jo?  What do you want?"

She sighed and said, "to get out of this bed, though I know I will never get out of this bed again. I remember when Daddy (my Grandfather Gordon Gault), would ask me "do you want to go?" My answer was always the same: "let's go!"  Even now, I want to go, be with family and friends and go live.  I'm ready for what's next, and feel loved...and still have that go gene."  In the weeks as her life wound more and more slowly, going was done by story telling and listening to music, or sharing a favorite movie. Going meant many came to see her.

It's the holidays, and I've missed Mom terribly.  My sisters, my Father all do.  Grief always catches me off guard.  It's a sneaky thief.  It doesn't rob one of joy, but adds a filter that forever changes the view.

I'm like my Mother in many ways, but as for having that Babe Ruth quality of calling what her life would be like? I am not like my Mother.  I didn't grow up knowing that I wanted the life I now lead. In fact, as a kid and young adult, my life today is the antithesis of what I thought my life would be as I skid toward 50. There are many times when I look around and think, how did this happen? I have very strong ideas of what I want today, what I need for  tomorrow. At any given point in my life, take a look at a snapshot, and this girl, young woman, 30-something, now firmly situated in middle age?  She didn't and doesn't have a clue what's next.  Being comfortable facing that uncertainty is something that's only recently become part of my life.