Kathie Gagne died 1,947 days ago.

The African Queen
August 27th, 2015 @ 8:48 am

Mom loved the movie The African Queen. I remember she was very excited when I went to see it at a small theater when I was in college. Today is the birthday of C.S. Forester, the author of the book upon which the movie is based, who wrote:

When a man who is drinking neat gin starts talking about his mother, he is past all argument.

Three Years
August 12th, 2015 @ 5:18 pm

Kathleen A. GagneIt is somewhat ironic that one of the ways I remember mom is by making sure to have at least one piece of chocolate every day. She struggled — battled, fought, really — with her weight for her whole life and always considered herself an ugly duckling. She never knew how much we really loved her. She never knew how much we really cared.

I had a bowl of chocolate chocolate chip ice cream tonight, smothered in chocolate sauce and sprinkled with macadamia nuts. Three years is a long time to go without talking to your mother.

Don’t Tell People
May 19th, 2015 @ 8:24 am

Kathie GagneIt’s been over a thousand days since mom died and I am still finding scribbled, unsent letters and postcards of hers in manila folders and spiral notebooks that seem threateningly infinite. I frequently curse her for not adding dates to things, so many, many of them are impossible to fix in the timeline of her too-short life.

One thing that makes me happy, though, is just the sheer quantity of empty pages she left. It sounds anti-intuitive, I’m sure, but she and I shared — and, to be fair, she is the one who instilled in me — a great love for writing, and writing implements, and new paper. There’s something profoundly hopeful about buying a new notebook.

In this I will begin my great American novel …
This one will hold letters to my great-grandchildren …
I can use this to record ideas for short stories …

I know those are the sorts of things she was thinking when she purchased yet another exquisite leather-bound journal or $1.99 college-ruled Walgreens notebook. I know because those are the sorts of things I think. And even though so many of them contain three pages of her lovely handwriting and 197 pages of blank space, it still brings me such joy to imagine the thrill she felt in line at the book store, and to know that for those few minutes she was sublimely hopeful and happy.
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Things No Grieving Person Wants to Hear (and What to Say Instead)

Old and Overmedicated: The Real Drug Problem in Nursing Homes
December 8th, 2014 @ 10:50 am

pillsThis just makes me want to scream and cry. There’s a whole story today at NPR about how nursing homes are illegally — literally criminally — over-medicating patients with the exact same drug that killed mom. Check it out: Old and Overmedicated: The Real Drug Problem in Nursing Homes

And I can’t get anyone at all to care or listen to me.

Jackie’s Goodbye

November 10th, 2014 @ 10:05 am

On this date in 1961, the satirical anti-war novel Catch-22 by Joseph Heller was published.

“He would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn’t, but if he was sane he had to fly them. If he flew them he was crazy and didn’t have to; but if he didn’t want to he was sane and had to.”

Mom must have read this book, because I know she had a fondness for Heller. For Christmas 1997 she gave me a copy of God Knows, Heller’s fictionalized memoir of King David.

I’m named after Michelangelo’s statue of David, and mom loved loved loved the story of David and Goliath; she always rooted for the underdog.

The Twelve Days of Halloween
October 31st, 2014 @ 9:03 am

I’m sure we weren’t the only family that did this, of course, but our “Twelve Days of Halloween” song was very special to us. My sister and I loved singing this with mom every year. I’ve got no way to determine exactly the date, but one year mom transcribed the lyrics. Judging by the handwriting, I guess my sister or I helped a bit; or maybe one of us found her lyrics later and decided to annotate them.

About a year and a half after she died, I found them in a big box of mom’s old files and scraps of memories.

The Twelve Days of Halloween
On the first day of Halloween, my true love gave me to me … an owl in an old dead tree.
On the second day of Halloween, my true love gave to me … two trick or treaters …
… three black cats …
… four skeletons …
… five scary ghosts …
… six witches flying …
… seven goblins gobbling …
… eight Jack-o-lanterns …
… nine monsters howling …
… ten bats flying …
… eleven haunted houses …
… twelve spooky noises …

Happy Birthday
September 22nd, 2014 @ 9:34 am

SkypeI had to use Skype today for a work conference call and was surprised when it showed me I had a message waiting from mom. It was a friendly reminder that today is her birthday, which I already knew, of course.

It also showed my log of Skype communications with her. There was only one. On March 17, 2012 apparently we had a six-minute video chat. I can’t remember it at all, and find it hard to imagine because by then she was almost completely catatonic. Perhaps it was my sister using her computer, although that doesn’t spark any memories.

I’d give anything to be able to hear her voice today, and I miss her terribly still.

Happy birthday, mom. I love you.

September 5th, 2014 @ 6:57 am

On the radio this morning I heard an interview with a man who had lost his son. He is a poet and he wrote an epic poem about his grief. He read part of the poem on the radio and I really liked it, so I wanted to post it here.

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