My friend —
As I write these words I’m at 24,000 feet and more than halfway across the country. I’m headed to see my mother, who is eighty-five years old. I will only be there a couple of days.
She was born in Ransomville, New York in May of 1932, the thirteenth of fifteen children. A world I’m sure I could never imagine, one before WWII, and television, and computers, and the Internet. Her life has spanned all these things.
Relationships with one’s mother are like no other. We are them, more or less, at first, and only gradually learn to be not-them, by a process not without its pains — for either party.
My mother has always loved poetry, and literature, and music, and union organizing – I’ve never quite been sure the order. She loves the ridiculous in life, and nothing seems funnier to her than the forgetfulness of aging. She lives out in the desert, and loves it.
Still, she is dying.
She’s very matter-of-fact about it. “There are far worse things than dying,” she says. “The Leonardo DiCaprio version of Romeo & Juliet, for one,” she adds as an afterthought.
Death is, to her, is “a thing neither to be feared nor courted.”
Like a change in seasons.
I should add that she has always said the death of the young is a terrible thing. But at her age, she sees it as fit and proper.
Not that she forgets to live; in the last 22 months, she’s added a boyfriend to her life who has brightened it considerably. I will no doubt meet him today. His family will be there as well.
I have a foreboding about this journey. But I hope it will be full of laughter, brief as it will be.
I hope, wherever you are, that love finds you. In whatever guise that rascal might take.