My Mother

By Rutskarn Posted Thursday Dec 8, 2016

Filed under: Notices 103 comments

Sitting in my freezer is a rack of tragedy ribs.

My mother knew my partner and I liked barbecue. Whenever she got the chance and she knew we were coming, she’d have a slab of Texas-style ribs waiting in the fridge that we’d take home and freeze. Considering ribs were just about the only thing we weren’t equipped to make ourselves, and the expense of the meat, and the time and effort they took to make properly, it was a thoughtful and ambitious gesture–the very kind she excelled at.

Her condition fluctuated beyond the doctors’ ability to predict, never mind ours, but some time ago she went through one of her rare and merciful upswells. For a week or two she was well enough to get up, stretch her legs, and–apparently–cook one more Texas-style rack. We ate them as a family, and when we were finished, and I had to go back home, I took the lion’s share home in a Ziploc. We went through them fast, but a few lingered, and a few times late into the night I thought to myself I really needed to eat the damn things fast. I didn’t want to eat my dead mother’s barbecue.

Two months after I found out she wasn’t going to get better, she passed away. That was a week ago.

I don’t hang all the grief and tragic absurdity of losing my mother on a sack of pig parts. I can throw them out, serve them to a friend, choke them down myself if I can work up the nerve. And I can get that haircut–the one she told me to get, the one she probably would’ve had a comment about. I can take care of my appointments she suggested. I can file those taxes we planned. I can have a wedding. But it’s going to be a long time yet before I run out of things I was supposed to do while she was still around.

I’m certainly not the only person who feels this way. Plenty of people were looking forward to spending plenty of time with her. For all of us, it’s going to be long months before the fog of mourning melts from our new and measurably worse Normal.

She was considerate, compassionate, patient, and good-natured in everything she did. I’m happy to have known her. To have been her son was more than anyone could ask.


From The Archives:

103 thoughts on “My Mother

  1. Cinebeast says:

    Both of my parents are still alive, and I literally cannot imagine my life without them.

    I’m really sorry, Rutskarn.

    1. Wide And Nerdy® says:

      Its a weird feeling isn’t it? Especially the older you get. I’m in my late 30’s and I still have all my grandparents and everyone else even remotely close in relation. I’m probably the least healthy of them. I might lose a grandparent or two before I die.

      I keep hearing stories like this and the tension just builds. I’ve been too lucky for too long. Whens it finally going to hit my family?

      Anyway, sorry to make it about me.

      Rutskarn, I’m sorry for your loss. I have tried and failed to imagine what this would be like. I pray (if you don’t mind) that someone close to you knows what you need right now and is willing and able to provide that to you. And that there is joy in your future when you’re ready for it.

  2. Koriantor says:

    She sounds like she was an amazing woman. The world is better for her time here.

    I am so sorry for your loss Ruts.

  3. Blake says:

    I’m sorry for your loss. Be sure to take care of yourself.

  4. I'm so sorry, Rutskarn.

  5. Jace911 says:

    I’m so sorry for you and your family, Ruts. Thank you for thinking so well of us to share your grief, even if but a little.

    Regardless of whatever faith people hold, in circumstances like these I try to take solace in the fact that our lost loved ones still exist, to some degree, in the lessons and experiences and memories they leave with us–in the changes they inspired in us. I hope that thought comforts you as well.

    1. MichaelGC says:

      Absolutely. And, it’s not as if matter & energy can be destroyed. Only transmuted & redistributed. Nothing is ever truly lost.

  6. Bend says:

    What a beautiful, moving tribute piece. Thank you for sharing it. I am made greater by it and it sounds like that’s a wonderfully fitting remembrance of your mother. Hugs!

  7. MrGuy says:

    Very sorry for your and your family’s loss.

  8. Abnaxis says:

    I’m not close to either of my parents but I have lost people close to me, and decades later I still regret not spending more time with those people before they passed.


  9. Ivan says:

    I’m sorry for your loss, Rutskarm.

  10. MetalSeagull says:

    I’m so sorry.

    She lives on in you, man. Your family resemblance is so strong that you can see a bit of her in your mirror. Not only that, but many of the qualities you praise in her seem true of you, too.

    I wish I had words that could actually console. But, you have my deepest sympathy.


  11. I appreciate you sharing, Rutskarn. All the best to you.

    1. Florian says:

      Mine too. Losing a parent sucks.

      I wish you strength.

  12. Montalais says:

    I’m so sorry for your loss, she sounds like she was a wonderful person.

  13. Leocruta says:

    I too am sorry for your loss. I hope that fog burns away soon, that you might enjoy those ribs.

    As an aside, how do you feel about humour in times of tragedy? (I understand I’m in the minority when it comes to this. I intend no disrespect).

  14. Karthik says:


    Very sorry for your loss, Rutskarn.

  15. Griffin says:

    I’m so sorry for your loss. This was a beautiful tribute. Thank you for sharing it with all of us.

  16. Christopher Kerr says:

    Sorry for your loss, Ruts. This is a wonderful tribute, one that I’m glad you shared with us.

  17. Ruts… It’s times like this, when I read of the loss of a relative, especially a Mother, that I think of what little time we truly have with those around us. Life can fade in an instant, and it’s our job to pick up the pieces and move forward. It’s this short time that also makes me remember I still have many loving family members I should spend time with.

    Sorry for your loss. Remember though, that rack of ribs was meant to freeze for a reason.

  18. Nick Pitino says:

    Sorry for your loss.

  19. Disc says:

    Sorry for your loss. Take care, man.

  20. Christopher says:

    My condolences, Rutskarn. It’s sad that a person who’s given me so many laughs, so many good reads and awful puns, is going through such a hard time. I appreciate you sharing this, and I’m sorry for your loss.

  21. Azulsun says:

    Thank you for sharing this with us. I am humbled by the fact that you were willing to grant us visibility into something so personal and to allow us such an opportunity to care for you as a person – and I believe that people here do indeed care about you. I’ve read some of the comments on this post and others, and they paint a picture of a community that defies the supposed norms of internet culture. It is a community that you have helped shape, and we're glad to have you here. It is my hope that this time in your life, though unfathomably painful, may be marked also by healing and personal growth.

  22. ehlijen says:

    My condolences, to you and all your family.

  23. thatSeniorGuy says:

    I can’t even imagine what it would be like to lose a parent. My condolences, and take care of yourself Adam.

  24. lurkey says:

    My condolences. And thank you for sharing.

  25. Nixitur says:

    My condolences, Adam. She sounds like she was an amazing woman and I’m sorry for your loss. Take care of yourself.

  26. el_b says:

    im sorry for your loss dude, cant imagine what you must be going through.

  27. Axion741 says:

    My utmost condolences Rutskarn, thinking of you in this awful time.

  28. Erik says:

    My deepest sympathies :(

  29. Gypsy says:

    I am terribly sorry for your loss. She sounds like a wonderful person.

  30. MichaelGC says:

    I don’t properly cry often – when my father died; when the eagles show up in The Return of the King – but again I’m crying now.

    Thankyou, Rutskarn. And thankyou, Rutskarn’s mother!

    And, er, sorry: spoilers for Return of the King!

  31. Eichengard says:

    Like others, I’m sorry for your loss. And, like others, think this was a beautiful piece about a beautiful sounding relationship.

    I gather it never really gets better, but that the world does expand so your grief no longer is the only thing in it.

    Take care.

  32. Grudgeal says:

    My condolences.

  33. Start says:

    My condolences to you and yours. Take care.

  34. Peter Street says:

    I feel for you. My Mother was taken away eight years ago, and I still miss her. She never got to meet my girlfriend, who became my fiance and wife… she’ll never get to meet her grand daughter when she’s born next year, she’ll never be a part of our life… but we had great times together and I never want to forget the good times.

    Commiserations, stranger-who’s-words-I-read-on-the-internet, I feel your pain.

  35. JakeyKakey says:

    My condolences, Rutskarn.

  36. aradinfinity says:

    That sucks, Ruts. I’m sorry.

  37. Zaxares says:

    I’m very sorry for your loss, Rutskarn. My condolences to you and everyone in your family.

  38. MichaelGC says:

    I love that first photo! But do get a hair cut.

  39. natureguy85 says:

    My dad is also really good at cooking ribs and other smoked things. Food is definitely a way of connecting people. Hopefully, someone knows her methods so those can be passed on and your family can remember her when they cook her recipes. My stepdaughter’s father’s family does that with her great grandmother’s cookie recipes. Things like that are obviously never the same as having the real person there, but it’s something.

    I’m sorry for your loss, for what it’s worth from internet strangers.

  40. Chad Kreutzer says:

    Ruts, my condolences during this difficult time. And ditto on the family resemblance comment. As long as you don’t get plastic surgery, you will always have a part of her in the mirror.

  41. EBass says:

    I’m sorry for your loss mate. I lost my best friend at 25 and my father at 28, I think you’re quite a few years younger than me, not sure. All I can say is it does get easier with time. For now I’d say try not to let your thoughts linger on it, and don’t analyze what you should or shouldn’t have done or should or shouldn’t be feeling.

    1. MichaelGC says:

      Aye, Rutskarn is 25 or 26, I think – it came up on the Diecast or SW (can’t remember which!) sometime within the last few weeks or so.

  42. Grimwear says:

    I’m sorry for your loss. I cannot know how you feel at this moment and how hard it must be. You must do what feels right for yourself, however I would say that were I to lose my mother and I had her last meal in my fridge I would take some time either by myself or with those closest to me and enjoy them. Throwing them out would be a pit in my stomach that I would never stop regretting. I’d eat and enjoy them and forever hold close the memory of partaking of my mother’s final meal that she lovingly prepared for me to enjoy.

  43. ColeusRattus says:

    I am sorry for your loss. Know you have my compassion while I can sadly offer nothing to console you, other than a weakly: “it’s gonna get managable, someday.”

    My SO was orphaned in her late teens, so by proxy, I do know some of the grief you endure now, and – more intimately, but not personally – some of the grief you will go through later on. It won’t get better per se, but you will learn to cope with and manage the grief.

    So, be sad. Be as sad as you can, don’t hide it, don’t think you need to be strong or stoic. Just own it until it passes.

  44. Aanok says:

    Sorry for you loss, Rutskarn. If she raised a son like you, I’m sure your mother was a remarkable person.

  45. Narkis says:

    I’m sorry for your loss Rutskarn.

  46. shiroax says:

    I’m sorry for your loss.

  47. Alecw says:

    What a beautiful little public eulogy. I am so sorry for your loss. My mother is battling terminal cancer too.

  48. Perivale says:

    Oh Rutskarn – that’s awful.

    I know this won’t mean very much coming from a random on the internet but I promise it gets better. I lost my Mum 6 years ago now and while it still feels impossibly hard without her sometimes, those times are rare now.

    I wish you all the best in getting through this.

    1. MichaelGC says:

      Aye, I am with you there. I found the second year to be the worst, actually. I muddled through the first year as if all I needed to do was complete another twelve months, and then everything would be OK. And it wasn’t, of course.

      Instead it was as if some part of me, which I hadn’t fully realised was there, finally gave up, and finally let it sink in that this was for ever, and Dad was never coming back. Those next 12 months were … not good. I did not do well for myself during that second year.

      That pain doesn’t go away, of course – how could it? And why would I want it to? But you learn to live with it and work around it, as would a speedy walker with a sore foot, but a well-practiced limp.

  49. Zekiel says:

    Sorry Rutskarn. That really sucks.

  50. Kizer says:

    Thank you for sharing Rutskarn. I am very sorry for your and your family’s loss.

  51. Arstan says:

    I’m sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing it with us

  52. Zak McKracken says:

    Oh, wow … I did not expect this story here… It must have been hard for you to write this piece.

    I don’t think I can make this any better by writing much, and personally, the thing that helps get through the most (for me) would probably be no words but lots of hugs. I cannot offer those, and coming from some internet stranger I’ve no idea what they’d count for anyway, so …

    *awkwardly stares at nothing while trying to look comforting or something*

    *stares some more, eventually walks off, aimlessly…*

  53. Jaaxter says:

    Rutskarn, I’m right about your same age and I lost my mother to cancer three years ago. I can promise you this: it’s going to take a lot of time to get back to anything resembling normal. Don’t try to force yourself into “normal” or think that you can pick the times that grief will hit you. Just let yourself feel. I’m so sorry that this happened to you.

  54. Witness says:

    This was a beautiful tribute. Thank you for sharing, and I’m sorry for your loss.

  55. potatoejenkins says:

    Well, shit. I’m sorry, Rutskarn. Stay safe and try to eat well nonetheless.

    Best wishes from the other side of the ocean.

  56. Blastinburn says:

    I’m very sorry for your loss, thank you for sharing with us. We all wish you the best.

  57. Victor says:

    My condolences.

  58. Rainer says:

    I don’t usually comment here, but I want to say that I’m very sorry. Be strong.

  59. Orophor says:

    2016, worst year ever. So sorry for you and your family Rutskarn. I lost both my parents within two years of each other when I was in college. It made my view of the world very lonely. Two decades later I still miss them. I wish they could see their grandson and daughter-in-law, but in memories shared with those who I love they live on.

  60. MalthusX says:

    I’m so sorry, Rutskarn. My thoughts are with you and your family. She sounds like an amazing woman.

    Stay warm, stay safe, and continue to celebrate her with those around you.

  61. Genericide says:

    I don’t really know what to say or if it’ll help. But for what it’s worth, I’m sorry and hope you take care of yourself.

  62. Rob says:

    Sorry buddy. :(

  63. mechaninja says:

    In 43 days, it’ll be 10 years since my brother passed away. Since then, I’ve learned one thing: Whatever doesn’t kill you … doesn’t kill you.

    My condolences, Ruts.

  64. Tektotherriggen says:

    Terrible news. You have my deepest sympathy.

    If you can’t face them yourselves, I hope you find someone to take those ribs off your hands. That will be one more person your mother can bring joy to, even if she doesn’t know it.

  65. Ciennas says:

    I’m really sorry. Thank you for telling us. We’re here for you if you need us.

  66. Syal says:

    So, uh…

    If you don’t want to eat those ribs…

  67. Charille says:

    Hearts out to you Rutskarn. And to all who knew her.

    I have experience with losing parents and…
    umm, well, it lingers. I hope you handle this tragedy as well as it is possible to.

  68. Mike Munroe says:

    Miserable news. She sounds like she was an amazing person. I hope that, in some way, you are able to see your way through all the things that you were meant to do together.

  69. Benjamin Hilton says:

    It’s always difficult to give condolences without them sounding trite or false. Infinitely more so when giving them to someone you’ve never met. So I won’t say what I don’t know to be true, I won’t say you will get over it, I won’t say that it will get easier. But I will say that you are not alone in this feeling, we all do or will someday know it, for whatever comfort that may bring, and you can, like others, live in this slightly different world. Life may never be the same, but it does continue.

  70. CaveTrollWithABeard says:

    My sympathies for your loss, Rutskarn. I’ve followed your writing, Spoiler Warning, and the Diecast for a long time, and just from looking at the man she raised, I can tell she was an amazing and wonderful woman. Best of luck with the healing process, and thank you for sharing your memories of her with us.

  71. MichaelGC says:

    This is

  72. MichaelGC says:

    a little anal, I know

  73. MichaelGC says:

    but I don’t like the current comment counter tagline

  74. MichaelGC says:

    so I’m going to keep doing this until it changes. There we go. Silly, I know! But this post deserved better.

  75. Somniorum says:

    I’m sorry sir… best wishes to you. : (

  76. Cuthalion says:

    I’m so sorry, Rutskarn. :'(

    I think it’s fitting that, as a writer, you were able to write such a beautiful post about her.

  77. tzeneth says:

    I said my peace on Patreon but again, I hope things get better for you. Remember the good times.

    On a slightly different note, that younger picture of you looks way too creepily similar to how I looked at that age.

  78. SKD says:

    My deepest condolences go out to you and your family Rutskarn.

  79. Mike Andersen says:

    I’m really sorry for your loss, Rutskarn. I’ve got to thank you, too, though – my dad died last month, and “it's going to be a long time yet before I run out of things I was supposed to do while she was still around” is the most apt phrase I’ve found that approaches the enormity of the loss. Thanks for that.

  80. Astograph says:

    You’re an awesome guy, and I can only imagine how much of that you owe to your mother. My deepest condolences.

  81. Linda S says:

    I’m so sorry for your loss. My thoughts are with you and your family.

  82. Kavonde says:

    Oh, Ruts. I’m so sorry. I lost my mother just a few months ago, totally out of the blue. I wish I could offer you some encouraging advice, but… there’s just a hole in your heart where someone that had literally been a part of your entire life should be. Maybe it eventually gets better. I don’t know, I’m not there yet either. But you at least start to get used to it hurting so much.

    Stay strong, man. I wish I could offer more than a virtual hug of solidarity.

  83. My mother was lost to something exceptionally stupid and senseless a few years after I left home and it seems the only thing I’ve come away from the whole thing is that you have to wait it out. Things get…I’ll say more manageable as time marches on cause I guess that’s just how it works. I won’t presume much more than that, but know that I am sorry for what you have to go through and hope the best for you.

  84. LCF says:

    All my sympathy.

  85. Baron Tanks says:

    So sorry. My condolences. All the strength to you and your family in these times.

  86. The Specktre says:

    My condolences to you and your family, Ruts. I’m so sorry.

  87. MadTinkerer says:

    If it’s any help, if I ever visit your house, and you haven’t eaten them yet, I’ll eat those ribs myself.

    If you want to eat them yourself but are too choked up, invite your friends over for a feast Viking-style. The ribs can be the main dish, but make sure to have salads and side-dishes with lots of chicken and/or turkey. Have a metal bucket to toss the bones in. Then get a tankard, fill it with ale, and make a speech about how awesome your Mom was before chugging as much as you can. Memorize some Swedish or German or words from another continental European language and work them into your speech.

    Whether your Mom is in the Viking afterlife or not, I’m sure she’ll appreciate it.

  88. arron says:

    Terribly sorry to hear of your loss. You have my deepest condolences :(

  89. Kadir says:

    This post is beautiful. Thanks, and sorry.

  90. SPCTRE says:

    I am very sorry for your loss, Rutskarn.

  91. BounderTree says:

    My condolences to you and your family Adam.

  92. RTBones says:

    Thank you for sharing with us all. So sorry to hear of your loss. Look after yourself, mate.

  93. Bubble181 says:

    Condolences to you and yours, Rutskarn.
    Do’nt let anyone else tell you how you “have” to feel; everyone deals with things in their own way – insofar as you can ever “deal” with this sort of thing – and every emotion, from sadness through apathy, anger, fear, love, even giddiness, can be a reaction to such an emotional blow.

    Best of luck in the coming weeks and months, and I hope you’l lbe able to find a new “normal” where you can feel at peace with yourself and give her death the place it deserves, without dragging you down but instead, hopefully, lifting you up.

  94. Kerethos says:

    My condolences to you and yours Adam.

    I’ve lost a couple of friends and family over the past 3 years. It gets easier, but the void they leave behind remains. The only advice I can give is to deal with your grief in whatever way you need to. I made the mistake of not doing so when the first familymember died, and that wasn’t healthy.

    So cry, laught, talk, hide for a few days, take long walks alone, eat comfort food. However you do it, deal with the feelings in some way, because they’re not going away, you’ll just learn to live with them.

  95. EwgB says:

    Wow, this is heavy. So sorry for your loss.

    Shouldn’t have read this at work, sitting here and almost crying. Damn, can’t even imagine myself in this situation.

  96. BitFever says:

    I know it doesn’t count for much and there is little I can say that others haven’t already but I am sorry for your loss and feel horrible for you.

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