Kathie Gagne died 2,235 days ago.

Never Throw Stones
February 9th, 2016 @ 7:17 am

bricksHere’s a little poem I’m sure I’ve referenced in the past. It’s by Irish playwright and novelist Brendan Behan, born on this date in 1923.

Never throw stones at your mother,
You’ll be sorry for it when she’s dead,
Never throw stones at your mother,
Throw bricks at your father instead.

Florida cut $100 million from its mental hospitals. Chaos quickly followed.

Sixty-Seven
September 22nd, 2015 @ 10:00 am

Kathie GagneToday would have been mom’s sixty-seventh birthday. My sister and I are going to take my son to Walt Disney World for the day. I think that would have made her happy.

In the car on the way to school yesterday, he asked me how old mom was going to be. I said she would have been 67 or 68, and that I couldn’t remember. He said, “You should just call her on your phone and ask her!” Trying to explain death to a five-year old isn’t easy. When I told him she wasn’t here any more, he asked where she was. When I said she was far away, he asked if she was on another planet. He’s young enough, I think, to still not be able to tell whether I’m crying or laughing sometimes, which is probably good.

I love him so much and wish he’d gotten to know his Nana Gagne.

Happy birthday, mom.

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.
Continue reading …

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

Catch-22
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.