It's been a very weird seven days around here.
First and foremost, though, is the fact that my mom does not have cancer. Thank goodness. That pesky nodule is just a cyst and a benign one at that. Whew. Breathe out now.
However, before she got that news, she had to attend the funeral of her first boyfriend. Kidney cancer. Tough stuff.
This one was very bittersweet because as it turns out, this fellow was gay. And my mom was his beard for a time, so to speak (however, I would never say this to her, not in this fashion anyway...)
Back in the late 50s, when they were in their youth, being gay wasn't something that was discussed or acknowledged in their crowd, in this community. Lots of pretense, lots of blind eyes. They ended up being good pals, with a friendship that lasted until his death. He became quite reclusive, more because of his personality than anything. But Mama would call him every couple of months or so, just to check in and say hello. They would always talk about meeting for lunch, but when time came to pick a date, he simply "could never make it."
When she called to tell me the news, I asked her if she were alright. She sighed and said no, very honestly. "He fixed me my first martini," she said. And then re-told me the story of how she and her girlfriend went to visit him when he was away at college and they were still in high school. Whistful memories wrapped up in melancholy but with no regret.
I don't know all the nuances of my mom's relationship with this fellow -- and would never ask her. At least not now. But as I watch her experiencing the closing and locking of a door from her past, I have a new appreciation of who she is as a person. And I have to smile just a bit, knowing that having feelings for a closeted gay man does indeed run in the family. But mostly my heart is heavy for her as she watches as part of her youth come to its true and final conclusion. As she remembers what was, without the supposition of what might have been.