It’s been nigh on ten years now since Mom died, I thought I would be done grieving. But she comes to me in my dreams, vivid, her hand on top of my head, saying soothing words, my port in a storm. Oh, that’s not to say she was some kinda saint. Patricia Ann Benjamin Tera Tripp Treadaway was a real firecracker in her day – sporting a bumper sticker on her VW bus that said “Born Again Pagan”, and another one, come to think of it, that said “Pro Child Pro Family Pro Choice”. The neighborhoods we lived in in Oakland, California were pretty much of the same mind. Still, the young men in their starched white shirts would ring the doorbell asking “Have you heard the word of the Lord today?” and Mom would ask them had they read the “Wiccan Creede”? She would tell them to come on back after they had done a little homework on Pagan beliefs so they could have a real conversation. She lost that playfulness in those last painful days, but that’s how I remember her. Gardening in full Halloween makeup, face all painted purple with streaks in her long hair, setting off the neighbors all gossipy and scaring the kids. That was back in Miami – Dade County, Home to Bible thumpin’ homophobes. Mom backed me up when I declared in all of my eight year old wisdom, that there was no God.
Grandma’s priest had just told me that un-christened babies go to Hell. For what? Babies hadn’t even the chance to do anything bad, what sin could they possibly have committed? The other kids started sending me home with Bibles – no doubt their parents felt the need to save my poor soul. Now even though I know Mom is in a warm gentle place in the universe, where there is no pain, and I surely would not wish a minute more of the bone searing pain of her last days, still, the grieving period for a woman of such magnitude would be longer I suppose, than folks who won’t be missed.