Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Saying Goodbye to My Mothers

I sat at at my mother's bedside during her last days. That was not so long ago, the spring of 2007. I held her hand. I talked to her. I stared at her, trying to burn a last image of her face into my brain so that I might never forget her. As if I ever would.

She was unconscious for over a week before she died. During that time, there were no responses to my many questions and comments to her. There was only silence. I clung to the hope that she might rally and show me her beautiful blue eyes just one more time. But her eyes remained closed. She had seen the last of this world. With each day her breathing slowed and then slowed some more.

I knew the end was coming. There was nothing more to be done for her. All that was left was the waiting for her last breath. I thought about her, remembering the good times and the sad times we shared over the years. It all seemed so surreal. Was she really going to leave me forever? She had been there for me my whole life. She nourished me as a child, prayed for me as a teenager, and advised me as a new mom. And oh the good times we had! I could always count on her. She'd always been there for me, a fixture in my life.

Eventually, her last breath came. In spite of all the hours I'd spent saying goodbye to her I still cried my heart out at the end. Saying goodbye is just so hard. Another chapter of my family history was over.

Fast forward to the spring of 2009. Here I am sitting beside my radio listening to reports of the last days of another mother, General Motors. I can't hold her hand or talk to her but I do find myself staring at her Pontiacs, Saturns, and the late Oldsmobiles, trying to burn their body styles into my brain so that I might never forget them. As if I ever would.

The reports of GM's demise have been all over the TV, radio, internet, and print, for months now. Not a day goes by that we here in Detroit don't hear reports of her vital signs. One day we're hopeful, the next day everything seems dire. So many times I've clung to the hope that GM would rally and show us some beautiful new body styles accompanied by robust sales reports. But that is not to be. With each passing day her heartbeat slows, and then slows some more.

I know the end is near. GM's stock is selling at the price it was during the Great Depression. The big executives sold their stock holdings this past weekend. I think about GM, remembering the good times and the sad times we've shared over the years. It all seems so surreal. Can what was once the biggest corporation in the world really be going into bankruptcy? She's been there for me my whole life. My grandfather worked there his first few years after immigrating to America. My father worked there for 27 years, almost half his life. My brother worked there from the time he graduated from high school until his retirement just a few years ago. The wages paid to my family by GM put food on our tables, clothes on our backs, heated the homes it enabled us to buy, and so much more. And oh the good times we had in our Chevrolets, Pontiacs, and Oldsmobiles!!! I could always count on GM. She's always been there for me, a fixture in my life.

Now the time has come for me to say goodbye to yet another dying mother, one who has nurtured me well over the years. Even though I know GM's days are numbered, (June 1, 2009), it's hard to believe she'll really be gone. There are those who predict that like the Phoenix she will rise from the ashes to see a new day. I'm not so sure. GM already did the (Pontiac) Phoenix thing once from 1977-1984. It didn't make for glory days. ;-)

When the announcement of GM's bankruptcy is made, tears will fall. Saying goodbye is just so hard. Another chapter of my family history will be over.


  1. This post touched my heart. Thank you for sharing this part of your life.

  2. Jasia,

    What a poignant and beautiful post; such feelings are ever so difficult to put into words, but something we can (and need to) relate to: the end of life and the end of an era. It's a chance for a new beginning somewhere, so they say. Stay well and creative, Jasia, and than you for sharing...

  3. What I have forgotten about my Mom is her voice. Several years before she died, we spent had a slumber party and I taped her while I was asking her genealogy related questions. I had borrowed the tape recorder and when I gave it back, I forgot to keep the tape. I would give anything to have that piece of plastic.

  4. Thanks for sharing such a tender perspective about your mother - and other pillars of our lives. We all have them, don't we?

  5. Jasia,

    Your post brought back so many memories for me as we cared for my mother-in-law during the last days of her life. Like your mother, she never opened her eyes again or responded to us for a week before she died. I have a deep emotional remembrance of those last days. It was hard, yet so sweet.

    Thank you for reminding us of how much GM has meant to the lives of so many. My family has never driven anything except GM vehicles! We will all miss American's best.