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Monday, October 12, 2015

Lessons in Life and Writing

I have an essay in Memories From Maple Street about the moment (and it was a single moment) when I went from innocent childhood to realizing there was a world beyond the magical place where my mother, sister, and I lived. Instead of giving away that experience, I feel the need to address, if just for myself, how much has changed since that experience.

The short story is that last week my nearly 97 year old mother broke her hip. She'd be a terrible surgery risk so will spend the rest of her life with a broken hip. Because she was already living in a foster home, not much has changed except that I'll no longer be able to load her into my car and take her out for our weekly lunch date. At least not much has changed for her.

My sister and I are the ones being hit with inescapable proof that we're now parenting our parent. The woman who raised us on her own, who juggled parenthood and a teaching career, who cared for her own mother, can no longer control her life. Dementia has exacted a terrible price but maybe that's for the best because she, hopefully, isn't aware of how little she has left. She still recognizes and dearly loves her daughters and that means the world to us and I'm so glad I'm not a single child. There's someone else with the same memories of that independent, upbeat, and basically simple woman, someone else who remembers hugs, laughter, certain songs, a love of nature, and a couple of horses named Trixie and Misty.

I'm finding it hard to write these days, not just because of what happened last week but what other family members are going through, but somewhere in these experiences are the kernels of inspiration that feed writers' imaginations. I have the sense I'm going to come out of this with a deeper understanding of the human condition. Hopefully--or should I say it's my vow--I'll be able to transform my walk into something readers can connect with. When I write about parenting one's parent or watching a spouse's decline, I'll be writing from the heart.

However, in case the universe is listening, I could do without the memories of trying to get through the medical insurance system without losing my mind. That I'd rather not write about--but might.

1 comment:

  1. I see life has not been easy for you, Vella. I have seen how difficult it is on adult children of elderly parents suffering with dementia or Alzheimer's from my dear friend and my niece. Getting through the mountain of red tape to get the financing for medical placement is extremely stressful.
    I wish you great success with your article in the anthology.