11 October 2006

Mother

I think about her all the time. She is on my mind constantly. She is half-way around the world, but she is always in my thoughts. I try to picture her as she was, a young mother, in a foreign country, with no real emotional support system. My father was always working, and even when he was home, he was of the old school, machismo upbringing, and did not spend much time with us kids. She was the one who was with us always, from first light of day to the last moments before sleep. I often wonder how she learned to be such a good mother. After all, her own mother had died when she was still a baby, and she had no memories of her mother to guide her. She grew up with her father and stepmother, who was a very kind, loving woman, but who was so burdened with ten of her own children that she did not have time to dote upon my mother as she was growing up.

When we immigrated to the United States, my brother and I were still very young. My father worked very hard to support my family and so my mother was often alone when she cared for my brother and me. I try to imagine how life was for her, caring for two young children, in a new country, and with no friends or family to help her while my father was working. Now that I am about to become a mother myself, I think of her and wonder if she was ever scared or overwhelmed, and I wonder how she felt during those years while she raised us. Did she ever feel bitter about giving up her own career goals to be a stay-at-home mother, or did she cherish the time and quality of time that she spent with me and my brother and sister? Like some people were meant to be good doctors or good lawyers, was she just meant to be a good mother?

I only hope that I can be half of the mother that she is.

mom1

21 June 2006

Unforgotten

"The memory of the heart outlasts that of the mind." ~ ♥N

She is seventy-six years old, and the world around her is shrinking. She cannot remember from moment to moment pieces of the conversation that she just had with you or how many times she has asked you if you wanted some iced tea. In fact, if you were to leave her apartment and come back the next day, she may not remember that she has already met you. These days, new faces, new happenings, or new encounters don’t stay with her for very long.

But ask her why, in all of her seventy-six years on this earth, did she not get married, and with much passion and bittersweet emotion, she will tell you the tale of a long ago affair that sadly ended when the love of her life tragically passed away forty-three years ago in 1963. She will tell the four decade old story of her beloved and the magical relationship they shared, and she will tell it as though it just happened yesterday.

“After he died in 1963, that was it for me. I could never love another after him.”

After you sit with her for some time, it is easy to see the effects of Alzheimer’s disease and the decline of her mental memory, but what is also apparent, is that her heart has refused to forget that one love of her life that neither time nor Alzheimer’s can erase.

… my thoughts on meeting an amazing woman with Alzheimer’s Disease ...
“Memory is the library of the mind." ~ Francis Fauvel-Gourand

"The heart's memory eliminates the bad and magnifies the good." ~ Gabriel Garcia Marquez