On December 13, 2007, my mama died of liver failure at the age of 67. I feel so many emotions, so conflicted. Like a lot of mother-daughter relationships, and like all comedians, my relationship with my mother was strained at best and aggressive at worst. When someone dies who you have such a tumultuous relationship with, it's harder than if you were really close. All my life I have thought, "my mother doesn't love me". Now, I can add, "and she never will."
I am remembering all the good things about her now. I never heard her say anything racist or homophobic. She was my first feminist role model. She loved that Helen Reddy song, "I am woman." I know every word to that song because she used to play and sing it all the time. She hasn't spoken to me in 10 years. Not because she was mad; it just never occured to her. She didn't like talking on the phone, and since I live in LA and she lived in GA, that meant we never talked. I guess she didn't like email or letters either.
I flew to GA for her funeral. I went for my daddy, or so I thought. They had been together for 41 years. His whole life was her. I am really worried about him. I feel so far away. When I was little, I used to dream my daddy would divorce my mama and we could run away from her. Now I realize how selfish that was. My mama's funeral was sterile and religious. We never went to church when we were growing up. She recently started going, but I think it was for the company. Her service was in a church and they mentioned Lazarus more than my mama, Jeanne Evans. I'm glad I made them let me speak. They didn't want me to, but I did. I talked about her, not about Jesus.
My mama was complicated. She was strong and yet very sensitive. She was very intelligent and had a good sense of humor. She was generous but didn't take any crap. She was a stickler for grammar, and very concerned about how we presented ourselves. She always taught me to follow my dreams and let my concience be my guide. On more than one occassion, she stood up for me, bragged about me, lied for me, and protected me.
My mama loved to read, and went to the library every week. Her favorite kind of movies were horror movies (me, too), and she preferred to do laundry at 3am. She made my wedding dress and all the bridesmaids dresses. She was psychic, and I would often get phone calls when I was in college with messages saying only things like "stay away from windows." I would laugh it off, and then stay away from windows.
This is an exerpt from what I said at the funeral:
People tell me that I look like my mama, and I say don't look at my face.
If when you look at me, you see any strength, intelligence, confidence, generocity; if I speak well or present myself well. Then, I say, that's my mother in me.