I am losing my mother. Oh, she is still alive, however she has dementia and forty percent heart function so little pieces of her disappear every day.
People who have read my stories for years say their favorite character is my mother. While my mother is a terrific “character,” she also really did all those things. A patisserie-quality baker, she wondered where she got a daughter who called hazelnuts “acorns without hats.” She bought me a canning set so I would learn how to “cook something, anything” and although she seemed pretty surprised when my strawberry jam turned out fabulous, she refrained from criticism when my version of my grandmother’s homemade chicken noodle soup became only a pot of soggy, chicken noodles because it never occurred to me to cook the noodles before dropping them into the broth.
Yes, she stole all the copies of Highlights for Children from most of the doctor’s offices on Fordham Road when I published my first poem at age eight. She squeezed through a construction fence surrounding a condemned building so I wouldn’t “go to jail all alone for trespassing.” She actually lost her wig on the Universal Studios Mummy ride and she even asked a sheik in Saudi Arabia what he wore under his robe. (“Boxers, madam,” he replied.)
A few weeks ago, a day or two before my father’s death from Parkinson’s, she had no idea who he was and was shocked when I said he was her husband. She stared at me accusingly. “My husband?!” she gasped disbelievingly. “Why didn’t you tell me I was married to him?” Sighing, I answered, “I presumed you knew; you were at the wedding.”
I have learned lots of things from my mother like trying new things sometimes leads to success. If you don’t know the answer, ask the question. When someone offers an opportunity, accept it. Always wear and say precisely what you like. And love with all your heart. That’s how she loves me and God knows, it’s how I love her, too.