I was sitting in the bathtub earlier, thinking about what I was going to write an entry about - I was thinking about Livejournal keywords, to start with, but that will probably be a topic for another day, because my thoughts wandered then to my most-often-used keywords. I suspect that my actual most-often-used keyword might be "meme" although I haven't checked to see what LJ says (and the whole topic of memes might also be another topic for another day) - but certainly a couple of them, over the years, have been "family" and "mom." (My keywords are sort of partially broken, which was the original topic that I was thinking about - but that also means that the keywords you can see at the side of my page now are not necessarily reflective of what I was using back before they were broken.) I don't think I started using "mom" as a keyword until the last year or so of my mom's life, anyway, but if I had been using it every time I mentioned her over the years, it might be the top keyword hands down.
Background, for those of you who don't know this stuff already: my mom and I were really close. We made quilts together. I went over to her house just about every Saturday for many years - usually we had lunch and went shopping a bit and then worked on quilts, that was the normal itinerary, anyway. And well before I started journaling online, in 2001, she was diagnosed with cancer. Then in 2004 she was diagnosed with a different cancer (which might or might not have metastasized from the first one - that's never been clear). The second one was a brain tumor - I wrote a whole entry about the tumor one year as my introduction to Holidailies, which is partly why I assume that a lot of people know this story already. (It was an attempt at dark humor. I'm not real sure how successful it was.) Anyway, the brain tumor worsened kind of abruptly in the last part of 2006 and she died in early 2007 - and then I spent most of that year and into the next dealing with her estate, so that's another year-plus of mom-related entries. It's probably only after Hurricane Ike late in 2008 that I stopped talking about my mom constantly, one way or another.
My dad actually had cancer, as well, and it eventually killed him too, or so we think - he died last May of what was probably complications of prostate cancer. If you are a cancer patient and you die, it's assumed that the cancer killed you, not surprisingly, and autopsies are not routine, so nobody is really sure. My dad and I were not particularly close - his appearances in LJ tend to be more of the venting variety - and besides, by the time he was diagnosed, my mom already had the brain tumor and mere prostate cancer just could not compare. Back years ago when he had multiple-bypass surgery, I rushed to his side and hung around the ICU for days and all that kind of thing, so it's not that I entirely didn't care. But when you have a job and are 100 miles away, it's hard to hang around the hospital for months and years of radiation treatment. Both my parents were more into "years" territory there, and I didn't actually hang around for my mom's either, although I did go up to M.D. Anderson with her a few times. Luckily both of them had spouses/partners who were willing to shoulder the burden of the daily stuff, or I don't know what I'd have done. (I do have a sister, who was in another city altogether and was no help there. That's another topic that came up often in those years.)
So actually this is my first Christmas as an "orphan" - a 50-year old orphan, but an orphan nevertheless. I haven't spent Christmas with my dad for many years, and my mom has been gone for a surprising number of Christmases now - this will be six, I guess - so it doesn't make all that much difference, in an immediate sense. But it's still weird, no matter how old you are.
Added: I mentioned writing about my father in order to vent, and there's certainly a lot of that, if you poke around (some of the venting entries are still friendslocked but others are not), but I feel like I have to point out that I did my fair share of venting about my mom, back in the day, too. I adored her, but she was still my mom and she sometimes drove me crazy, as moms tend to do.