Elaine Camper Lang: 26 March 1935 - 5 January 2022
Technically, I suppose, I, and my sibs, are now orphans. Given the youngest of us is over fifty, I guess it’s not bad. On January 5, 11:50 pm MST, my mom passed away. It was not unexpected. So not unexpected, that I made sure to visit before leaving the country, because I really didn’t think she would make it through to when I might return. She slipped peacefully and quietly away in the comfort of her own bed, with a couple of her kids nearby, and surrounded by the treasures of a lifetime.
Mom was a fiery woman, living pretty much up to the Sicilian stereotype. Sure, she could be cantankerous, but goddammit, she was my mom. She busted the stereotype when it came to cooking though. From Meatloaf Tuesday to the Shoe Leather pot roast complete with a side of canned, pale, tasteless peas or asparagus, she was not your stereotypical Italian mom in the kitchen. Her Bolognese sauce was exceptional though, and a staple on Sundays. She wasn’t a fan of cooking, she did it out of necessity for the brood she raised, but goddammit, she was my mom.
Her sitting at the piano playing and singing Christmas carols, as I lay on the floor staring at the tree (I was probably eight or so) is a favorite memory of mine. Even when I would sit on the ugliest green couch in the world in my jammies to get my fingernails clipped, she would be humming some tune or another. We even shared some musical appreciation after I went to college. To my surprise, she enjoyed some of the artists I played - Roxy Music especially.
She always encouraged me to follow my dreams and ambitions. I remember her reading a story I wrote and telling me I was good at it, and to keep it up. Maybe, if I had, I would be good at it. Beyond the writing, she supported my decisions I know she disagreed with. Oh, I could tell she didn’t like it, but she didn’t oppose, and offered support.These last years were really hard on her though, and I am happy that she has finally found rest and peace. Her physical and mental health really suffered in the last year or so. Physically, well, old age and a lot of pain. Mentally, she was struggling as well. My dad was her total rock and when he died nearly ten years ago, she was really, really lost. She kept a tight hold on her remaining anchors: her dog and her mementos, particularly my dad’s favorite chair. It was broken down, and she never had it fixed and, as far as I know, she never sat in it either. When her pup finally died, she really lost the will to stay. When I was with her in October, she probably said “Lord, take me anytime. I’m ready.” a dozen times in an hour. I guess her body finally decided it was ready, too. I’m not a believer in any afterlife, but if there is one, I'm certain my mom and dad are happy, healthy and together again.
The last words I got to say to her were via phone just yesterday. "Goodbye, Mom. I love you. It's ok to go now." I hope she heard them.