Sunday, June 8, 2014


Yesterday would have been my mother's 93rd birthday. She was on my mind all day long. It had been a long time since I'd thought about her that much. It felt good to remember ~~ and it felt painful too.

Some of my memories of my mother are not easy ~ the times I visited her in the nursing home as dementia took more and more of her away, in particular. Or more precisely, dementia took the rest of us away from her. Times, places and people she couldn't remember. On one visit, she was told that her daughter was there, and she responded, "No. Not my daughter. She's gone." I took her hand and rubbed it with mine and said, "No, mom. I'm not gone. I'm right here." She still didn't really see me.

Then there are the memories that I have of a younger, stronger, vibrant her. I remember a time she, Dad and I went to visit her sister and brother-in-law. It was 1970 or '71. Dad and Uncle were talking about the Vietnam War and I was arguing with them about how terrible it was. Dad and Uncle were part of the Greatest Generation and had both served in the Army in WWII. They had a different view of what patriotism was ~ and I was being as far from it as they could imagine. On the way home, Dad was making a point about how disrespectful I had been not only to my elders, but also to my country. My mother countered ~ the only time I ever heard her defend my position on anything ~ and said, "She has a right to speak out. It's her friends who are going there. It's her friends who are dying there."

Years later, long after Dad had died, she and I talked about that conversation. She said Vietnam was the one topic that she and Dad had always disagreed on. She was glad that my brother's number had never come up because she would have done everything in her power to get him to Canada and safety.

Maybe she was so present to me this year because this birthday came hot on the heels of the 70th anniversary of D-Day and all the celebrations and honors that anniversary brought. I understand the honors given for those who fought that day, yet I mourn the thousands who died on the shores as well. Mom brought me a message ~ remember the people while continuing to argue against the cause of their suffering and death.

I love you, Mom. I remember you... all of you.

What remembrances do you have of those who've left your life? What gifts did or do they bring you?

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