I'm not much into confessions, at least I don't think I am, but I'll come clean about something. Even though I'd happily signed up to write a monthly blog for Fire Star and figured I'd have no trouble coming up with something to chat about, when I sat down in front of the computer yesterday, I had nothing, nothing I say.
Oh who knows? I rather suspect it was a case of life getting in the way of creativity. Writing is hard work. All that business of creating a world peopled with living, breathing characters out of thin air. And that has to be done while the washing machine stops working and teenagers stay out past their curfew and give us grey hair.
These days I'm in a position familiar to millions of people. I'm parenting my parent. How easy it is to write that—parenting my parent. But as anyone who has been there knows, there's nothing easy about advocating for our aging parents and accepting that we have no choice but to slowly let go.
Just today I took my mother to her doctor for a regular checkup only there's nothing regular about it because she's getting weaker and more confused by the day. After listening to her heart and commenting that her heart murmur is becoming more pronounced, he looked me in the eye and said, "Just keep her comfortable." She's 96 and doesn't want to live to be 100. Thank goodness for a doctor who believes in, "Just keep her comfortable."
This is the loving single parent who raised my sister and me on her own, my biggest fan, the woman who encouraged my writing from the beginning. She doesn't understand the publishing world but we went to a New York city writers' conference together and she sat through workshops and told me I was as good a writer as Nora Roberts. She talked me into going into St. Patrick's Cathedral which was an awe-inspiring experience and we got kicked out of the Ritz Hotel for doing the tourist gawk. Nothing will ever take those memories from me.
Just today when I again told her about the Women Writing the West conference I'm going to in Oct., she asked what I expected to learn from it. I explained that I'll be running a workshop about the pros and cons of self-publishing, and she gave me that, "What language are you speaking?" look. Yes Mom, after all these years of writing, I've developed enough expertise about some subjects to run a workshop. I'd love to be able to take her to central Oregon with me, but the days of hanging out together at a conference are behind us, and I can't impress her with how much I know. She no longer grasps my world.
But we had those days, darn it, and I'll always have the memories.
One of my favorite pictures of her is one my sister had enlarged and I framed that show her, her mother, her sister, and a sister-in-law kicking up their heels like can-can dancers.
That's the mother I'm going to remember—the can-can dancer with the big smile, the mother who has read my historicals more times than either of us can count, the teacher who introduced me to the love of reading and from there to writing.
My biggest and best fan.
Mother, you more than anyone else made me who I am.