The last two times I saw my mother were almost exactly a year apart. The first time she was slipping into her own version of dementia. The second she was in its full bloom. The first time there was still the look of disappointment I had become so used to – disappointment in the son who had abandoned her. The second time that look was gone, a bright smile in its place. Because in her mind the 12 year old Lon was there with her again – the good Lon, the perfect Lon, the Lon who did anything asked of him, the Lon that promised never to make her cry… her boy on the bureau had finally come home, I’m glad she had that as her last memory of me. January 21, 2014 she tied her sheets together again and escaped the second floor window of her life.
She asked that I not be informed of her passing.
I wish she let herself become part of my life rather than insisting I be a subset of hers – that she saw me as I was instead of who she needed me to be – saw the kind of son, teacher, and man I was. She missed out on being “grandmother” to 3000 “grandkids” – my students – which she would have loved. She never knew who my friends were, never saw a play I directed, never saw where I lived, never understood that I had a good and happy marriage – never accepted I had become a man. I was angry at her for a very long time. Now I can only be sad for what could have been – for every meaningful second I lost with her – that she lost with me. But I realize now that she – and we all – do the best we know how until we know better. The life I chose meant not sharing that life with my mother. But it was my life. A life in which sadly she had no interest.
I am who I am in part because of my mother. There is good and bad that has come of that.