Friday, October 15, 2010

The 10th Anniversary of My Mother's Death

I realise that A Shroud of Thoughts is usually devoted to pop culture, but today is a rather sad anniversary for me. You see, it was ten years ago today that my mother died. She was not young at the time. In fact, she was 84 years old. And she remained in good health until nearly the end. Still, it is never easy to lose a a parent, no matter how old she is.

My mother was forty six years old when she had my brother and me. She had also lost an infant daughter, my sister Cindy, three years before we were born. I suppose that was much of the reason my mother tended to worry and fret over my brother and me much of the time. She tended to be a compulsive worrier as it was, almost always agonising over money, even though we were never poor. My mother's neuroses at times put a strain on our relationship, both when I was growing up and as a young adult. While my mother did tend to worry needlessly, I still think she was in many respects a remarkable woman. She was very intelligent and could even do maths in her head, which I find amazing given I need a calculator to add and subtract. She knew a good deal about history, and it is from her that my brother and I inherited our love of history and genealogy. She also enjoyed classic movies (although she was old enough to remember when they first came out), especially comedies. I had long known that she had seen Frankenstein (1930) in the theatre and hated it (she said it scared her). I never let her live down the fact that she saw a classic film in the theatre and never appreciated it!

Just as I had helped care for my father when he was dying of cancer, I was the sibling who took care of my mother as she grew older. It was during this period that we grew the closest we had ever been and I finally got to know her quite well. For instance, I had always known Maureen O'Hara was her favourite actress, but I learned that Marilyn Monroe was also her favourite. I also learned that she had been an amateur artist when she was younger. While I am probably biased as her son, I must admit I thought she was pretty good. My mother and I actually had a good deal in common. We shared a love of classic films and even a few musical artists in common. Like most members of the Towles family, we both enjoyed a good card game. Here I must say that even when I was younger and did not understand why my mother worried so needlessly at times, I always loved her dearly.

Indeed, my mother even liked the softer material of some power pop bands, such as The Beatles and Cheap Trick, as well as artists like Roy Orbison. I very seriously doubt she would have cared too much for My Chemical Romance, but I feel this particular song is fitting given today. It is "Welcome to the Black Parade" from their album, The Black Parade. The album is centred upon a young man in the early Twentieth Century who is dying of cancer. Among its central concepts is that death comes to us in the form of our strongest memories, which in the case of the album's protagonist was a parade to which his father had taken him when he was a child. For that reason, death comes to him in the form of The Black Parade. My family had always enjoyed parades and we attended many when I was a child. While I do not know in what form death came for my mother, I would like to think that it was possibly in the form of a Black Parade. Believing in an afterlife as I do, I like to think that death, though it might bring sorrow to those left behind, can be a cause for celebration.


Mark said...

My feelings echo your last sentence. I'm just over a year away from the same 10th anniversary, though my mom was only 54 at the time of her death. And I'm certain you think of your mom every day as well. Thanks for the good post.

Raquel Stecher said...

It's very nice of you to commemorate your mother like this. I didn't know you were a twin! She raised you very well because you are upstanding, intelligent and thoughtful man. I'm sure she was always very proud of you.

As a My Chemical Romance fan, I'm very surprised to see their video on your website. They are my outlet when I want to explore my darker more macabre side. The lead singer has written numerous songs exploring death and I always find them quite intriguing. To me in a way they are death poetry.

Terence Towles Canote said...

Thank you for your comments, Mark! You have my sympathies with regards to your mom.

And thank you, Raquel, although I am a bit mystified that you would be surprised to see a My Chemical Romance video on my blog. After all, they are pop punk, at times bordering on power pop! And as you know, I do enjoy the macabre. :-)