Gina Pertonelli

  1984 -
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Gina's Story > Chapters > My Entire Life

"The Indignity of Death" 


Date Range: 1984 To 08/04/2007   Comments: 6   Views: 7,184
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I was the one who found my mother. She had stayed home from work that day - which she did many days so it wasn't anything unusual - and I went to school.

I knew she was sick, but could never tell if it was her health habits (BAD) or her mental state (WORSE).

I remember at that time I was doing anything and everything to keep from going home. Working at the school supply store, volunteering, school paper, whatever. The people at school must have loved me because I was the first to volunteer for anything, no matter how mundane or unappealing.

That day I was helping the theatre group glue cotton onto plywood to mimic clouds for a backdrop. By the time I shuffled home it was dark. I opened the door and didn't immediately think anything was wrong. My mom was often passed out by that time, Sometimes I'd find the hot water on the stove where it'd boiled dry - her attempt to get healthy and drink tea.

Tonight there was nothing. Not the drone of the TV, not a single light on. I thought mabye she'd gone out - run out of cigarettes or booze. I went into the kicthen and heated up a frozen meal. Pouring some water I noticed her purse was still hung over the chair. It was kind of a joke between us, because she was forever losing her keys and purse - a bad habit that I've inherited.

I called out her name but there was no response. I went up to her room but she wasn't there. I checked in the bathroom, just in case, as once I'd found her passed out in the tub. Not there.

The microwave was beeping so I went downstairs again. I don't know why I wasn't worried - maybe she was outside - she liked to do that sometimes (often forgetting to bring her keys with her) to get some fresh air. I took my plate of food and went into the family room to watch some TV. Switching on the light I almost didn't notice her at first. She was on the side chair, a blanket covering the lower half of her body.

I called to her that I was wondering where she was, but she didn't respond. I moved towards her, intending to put her upright as her head had fallen to the side and she always worried me that she'd hurt herself or stop breathing like that, and noticed that her eyes were open.

It took me a minute to realize what was going on. She was looking at me, but not seeing me. Her skin was cold. As I was standing there, touching her head, the blanket fell off. She was naked from the waist down (I have no idea why) and she'd gone to the bathroom on the chair. I jumped back in disgust and her head snapped back. I screamed and the neighbors came running. I had the presence of mind to cover up her bottom half and from that moment on the rest is kind of a blur. Police, an ambulance, and a social worker.

All I remember is her hollow eyes, no light there. Wasn't really my mother although it looked like her.

I still get spooked that I was in the house for quite a while before I found her. If the dead watch us before they actually depart the world, what was she thinking? Did she find me ungrateful because I didn't worry right away? I wonder sometimes.

I hope I go quietly in my sleep. Finding a family member like that is not something I'd really wish on anyone.

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Member Since
Jan 2009
Dale Hannity said:
posted on Jul 08, 2009
back then

I lived with my family in our big old farm house until we were married (we didn't go off and live by ourselves really - only me who went to Viet Nam but when I returned I lived back at home). Our grandmother lived with us and I remember my brother found her in her bed when he tried to wake her for breakfast and he panicked because he thought he'd done it. But my father explained that it was the cycle of life. Today we remove them quickly and put them in the funeral home and make them pretty. A long time ago you'd leave the person in the house for viewing and sleep there for a few days. I'm not sure which way is better honestly.

But I'm sorry you had to be the one to find your mother like that.

Member Since
Jun 2008
Namiko Smith said:
posted on Jul 11, 2009
Hi Gina

I know you didn't have a good relationship with you mom. Neither did I. ( I still don't talk with my mom that offen.) I always wonder how I would feel when my parents died. Would I feel sad or regret something... etc..
I hope you have a peaceful mind now..

Member Since
Aug 2007
Gina Pertonelli said:
posted on Jul 11, 2009

@Dale - yes, that was pretty shocking. It's sort of this before/after point in my life. The hardest part, for me, was knowing I was in the house for a while, while she was there. That still really freaks me out. But yeah, afterwards they just whisked her away and I never saw after. Just gone, out of my sight until she was buried.

@Nami - good to see you here again. I felt sad, sure. But I think I also felt more fear "what was going to happen to me now" and some immense guilt being relieved. People don't really like to talk about that. I'm not glad she was dead per se, but glad that her problems (and those she put on me) were over, if that makes sense. I don't miss HER as she was. Maybe I miss the mother I wanted her to be. Anyway I never expected to feel relief, but I did. And then I felt guilty about it....

Member Since
May 2009
Klarity Belle said:
posted on Jul 11, 2009
Hi Gina

It is so sad that your mother's problems caused her to take her own life and that you, then a young teenager were the one to find her. 

My mother's 'holism' was her addiction to business, success and materialism, she killed herself with stress and anger, at least that's my interpretation of the cancer that finally got her attention, with just enough time for her to realise what was important in life, before it snuffed her out completely. 

I got a glimpse of the mother she was capable of being and then she died. I felt so short-changed.  I can relate to your feelings of relief and guilt.  In fact I am currently working through a lot of 'shameful' feelings that I have kept buried all these years which have kept me stuck in my own groundhog day for far too long.  Finally, time to accept them, let them go and live life fully! I hope you have found a way to do that too, your honesty is admirable. 

Member Since
Apr 2008
Chuck Stallong said:
posted on Jul 20, 2009

It always seems such a difficult thing - on one hand, it's their DNA and because of them you exist. On the other hand, there are people who shouldn't have children because they mess them up so badly. I'm glad to see that your mother didn't for you too badly. You're such a bright young woman with a great future, really. Must be all the good parts of your mother coming through, so maybe I guess we can be thankful for that.

Member Since
Nov 2009
nicky andy said:
posted on Jan 28, 2010

I am sorry u had to experience that