Today is October 27th. A day some sons would remember, if it was the day their mother died, but I’ll probably forget in time. I don’t remember the date that my father died. I didn’t really mourn their deaths. It’s different situation when you say goodbye to family members who don’t remember who you are. You tend to reach deep into your memory, and think of them as they were 10 years ago, when they knew your name.
Both my parents suffered similar memory loss around the same time, which rare I’m told, but makes perfect sense if the loss was triggered by environment. I suspect something like the aluminum pot my mother cooked Sausage casserole in, or some similar case. The doctors use all sorts of words to avoid saying Alzheimer’s. Officially it is some sort of dementia.
In any case, I said goodbye a long time ago to both, so m mothers death last night comes more as a relief for her, and for the family. I won’t turn this into a political blog about the right to die on your own terms. She lived a long and happy life, and despite not remembering much from each day, she still managed to smile and make others smile with stories from her past. In the final years, the stories were completely fictional, and sometimes outrageous, but she always told them with a smile, and made others smile.
I have my own stories too. I started a list of mom memories a few years back, just as I did for my father. As you get older, you tend to tell the same few stories over and over, and both my parents had their favourites. As I recall each one from here till my death, they’ll make me smile and remember them. They both lived to be over 85, older than the memories of my Grandfather ad Grandmother before them. A good life I suppose, and although we were a close family in many ways, I never really knew much about my parents, beyond how they related to me. They were superheroes for my early life, and then, as happens to most of us, I began to grow older myself, and discovered that my parents were just people, with flaws like anyone else. My mother was not a superhero, and in fact, suffered from depression and self esteem issues much like I do. She saw the negative in life rather than the positive, and often told the sad side of any story.
Still she was my mother. The prettiest of all mothers, and the coolest. She was a teacher, and a theatre performer. Our house parties were great, always attended by other actors from Georgetown playing games and telling stories.
I saw little hate, or anger, or prejudice in my mother. She was supportive of me, even before anybody knew what attention deficit disorder was. I feel she was always a little sad that everyone told her I wasn’t living up to my potential, which was what they said about smart A.D.D kids that couldn’t sit still enough to read a book or finish a report. I didn’t do very well in school, but everyone agreed I was smart.
I got into computers at an early age in a time when adults didn’t, and although she tried her hardest to understand them, so we’d have something to share, it was clear she did it for me. She never really understood what I did for a living, and bragging about me was harder than it was for the other neighborhood kids who were doing well in school or sports… but I know she loved me.
My mother had a great sense of humour, and we shared that, often at the expense of my father, who tried – but didn’t. Perhaps his upbringing ina a foreign culture just made it harder to understand our humour, but Mom and me would make jokes al the time.
Although I was the youngest of 3, both my sisters were a generation older and moved out of the house fairly early. For much of my youth, I was like an only child. A full 7 and 9 years younger than my two sisters, I was the baby. I was perfect. I was over protected I suppose. My sisters were often in trouble or in the hospital. I wasn’t.
My own memory isn’t as stable with regards to emotions and family. I have huge blank spots for most of my childhood. I remember a lot of yelling coming from my Dad and crying coming from my Mom. He’d call her stupid and other such insults in anger. I’m sad I remember less of the good times, because I know there were many. We’d play games, and even though I almost never won any, it was still quality time.
I’ve lived away from Mom for the last ten years or so, as my sisters took care of her in BC. I visited once, and was frustrated to see her get old. I prefer my memories of pretty – reasonably happy Mom. It’s how I’ll remember her.