Friday, February 17, 2006

Are there rules for how to feel about this? Rest in Peace, Barbara Hegstrom

I'm not sure where to begin on this post...

I got a call from my 2nd ex-husband (Ed) yesterday evening letting me know that his mother (Barbara Hegstrom) passed away. She had been in failing health, but the loss was still a shock.

Now, I know that people who read this and follow it are going to say, "Why should you care? He was your ex-husband, she was - for all intents and purposes - not in the picture of your life. What's the deal?"

Well, first of all...I have a heart. After what I've gone through losing my dad (as well as what continues to crop up by surprise), nobody in this world deserve that kind of pain.

Second, as stormy a relationship as Ed and I had, I always understood the importance of Barb in Ed's life. She was as close to him as anyone could get, and they were friends as well as mother and son. Nothing Oedipal about it. She was his support network, and now he has to go it alone. And one other thing...he's now officially an "adult orphan", if there is such an animal. His father passed before he and I got involved. I know I'm halfway there myself, and I want to be as supportive of Ed as I can be through this time.

Ed's mother was certainly quite a woman. She followed her heart throughout life, which is quite admirable.

She liked what she liked, and she had a sense of adventure and whimsy about her that was contagious.

Who else in her age group could like Dr. Hook, Slipknot, "Murder She Wrote" and Mandy Patinkin? Not many.

She was a piano player for much of her life, mostly for fun. Her daughters were accomplished musicians, and her sons were creative in their own right as well. Creativity was encouraged in their home, something rare in this day and age. She rooted for the underdog, and was easily moved by many things...a beautiful painting, a song, a movie, a play, a book. She also loved children - she had five children, several grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and she drove a minibus for several years taking kids to and from school in Perry, Iowa. She would buy little toys and treats for "her kids", and I'm sure they'll remember her gestures if not her name.

She also loved animals very much. She had several cats and a dog, but her favorite animal besides those? Penguins. That's how she and I bonded in the first place...our mutual love of penguins.

I guess this is turning into a "eulogy" of sorts, but she deserves it. She was always a good mother-in-law to me. She came to many of my performances, and insisted on sitting in the front and taking pictures. (Her honorary status was "soloing on the Kodak Instamatic".) She accepted me into her life and her family, and even after Ed and I parted, we shared many interesting conversations on the phone. I know I could drive her crazy, and sometimes the favor was returned, but there was always love behind it.

And she will be missed. Very much.

Say hi to my dad for me, Barb.