Sunday, May 9, 2010

MOTHER'S DAY

This is Mother's Day, the first Sunday in May.  The chill of early spring is still in the air, and we all relish this interlude between the snowmelt and the coming oppressive heat of a Baltimore summer.

I've been thinking a lot about my mother lately.  She would have been 95 on April 23.  Nowadays 95 doesn't seem so old anymore, with Betty White hosting Saturday Night Live last night at the age of 88 ½.   My mother looked a lot like Betty White.

I can't help thinking about what we could have done together all those years if she were still alive. But she died of Alzheimer's in 1994.  One of the most severe cases ever seen, according to the autopsy report at Southwestern Medical School in Dallas.

As my dear Father said (when he was developing dementia of his own, unbenownst to us), Mother died in 1994, but we lost her many years earlier.  Looking back, I now realize the subtle signs that crept insidiously into her being and robbed us of a normal relationship.

As a result, from about my age of 16 on, we never did "mother-daughter" things.  We never went shopping together. We never went out to lunch, just the two of us. We never talked about life or love, politics or pop culture, or all those thousands of little things that bond a mother and daughter together.

She made many sacrifices for me.  In her 40's she took some college courses in order to qualify for an emergency teacher's certificate so that she could be a substitute teacher and save some money for my college education.   She took driving lessons. She, who had never worked outside the home after marriage, later worked full-time as an attendance clerk at a junior high school.  This job title has undoubtedly been replaced by PCs and spreadsheets by now, and irony not lost on one who uses them every day.

For years I harbored a lot of anger and guilt about my mother.  Anger over those years that Alzheimer's took from us, guilt from not being a better daughter.  But now, as I approach the time in my life when she lost her personhood, I am grateful for the time we did have together, and cherish those memories.

I miss you, Woo-Woo.

The Appearance of Reality:
Fragments of Memories


-bjd

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