Memories of my mother
I’m not sure what my oldest memory of my Mother is. I remember her. She towered over me. Her hair was jet black. That is a far cry from the woman I saw 48 hours ago. Her hair was now white, her body crippled by a stroke. My mother’s voice, a voice I still hear in my mind, was silenced a year and a half ago by the same stroke. And what I know, and she does not, is her cancer is returned. It has spread and by the time the Superbowl comes, she will be gone.
I’m not sure where those old memories are from. My Father was stationed in Washington, DC, when I was under three. Then we went to Holland. My mother raised us in an apartment, on the fourth floor of a building in Amsterdam. I can remember some of the things that happened then and I certainly heard the stories. There was the time I climbed into a window. There was a screen in place, but that could not be seen by the teachers and students of the school across the street. To them, it looked like I was about to do a sixty foot swan dive. They ran across the street and banged on the door, until I was pulled from the window. My brother and I had these plastic jeeps that we sat in and pushed with our feet. They made a horrible noise and the poor man who lived right below us worked at night and slept during the day. He tried to explain the situation in Dutch, to my Mother, who only spoke English.
I sat in the darkened hospital room. People did come and go. My mother was awake, then drifted to sleep. I have never met a woman who liked to talk as much as she did, so it is a certain cruelty that the last stroke took her voice. She can speak some, and some of the people who are around her a lot, say they can understand her. I cannot.
I held my mother’s hand. It was hot and soft and so very small. She has pneumonia, so she was running a fever. I wondered when was the last time I had held her hand. As a baby, I know my hand would have reached up and reflexively grabbed her finger. As a little boy, I know I held her hand when I went to the store and through a parking lot. I have a four year old and a six year old. The six year old was not happy about me holding his hand when we went Christmas shopping at the mall. By next year, he will probably refuse.
I let her sleep. The nurse had given her a shot of pain killer. I think about all the memories. The good times, the not so good times and the times that might have been or perhaps should have been. But I know, she has little time left.
Soon, all I will have are memories of my mother.