Today I mark the 48th anniversary of my mother's death. Over the years, I've noticed that by the middle of June, the date enters my consciousness and I begin to take notice. It's been so many years but I still dream of my parents and of the house my small family and I shared for almost 20 years. These constructs are with us for a lifetime.
My mother was only 54 at the time of her death so it's inevitable how many medical advances have come along since she battled cancer. Back then, the word was difficult t say, and coming out of the mouth of a doctor was as chilling as it gets.
What I wonder about the most, however, is how her death has impacted my life and various decisions and choices I've made over the years. I wonder if she would have been pleased with my girlfriends, wife(s) and some of the friends I've collected a an adult. It's all conjecture, of course, but just being able to have those conversations would have been wonderful.
I remember during the last few months of her life I'd have these conversations with her about what I think would probably happen in my future. I was just about off to college, driving around in a little VW bug, and just beginning to wonder about the draft, the changing music scene, and this place called Vietnam. She missed all that and sometimes I think it's just as well because of all the pain, the chaos, and realization that things were no exactly as we thought them to be.
Mostly, when I think of my mom, I recall the chance to get close to her in her dying moments, growing to appreciate the struggles of a young couple moving from the east coast to southern California soon after the war ended, and trying to chip off a little shard of the American Dream in a place that came to be known as Sun Valley. Some things were so simple then. Television was new, cars became available and futuristic, houses were affordable, public schools nearby and most everyone went there. My parents, despite being perceived as the other by some, fit in well to their burgeoning neighborhood. There they found similar folks from Boston to rural Tennessee. They all became Californians and identified themselves with barbecues, and new Fords, raking leaves and taking snaphots of their gardens.
Today, when I think of my mom, I'll see her sitting on the end of the front porch, smiling as I take her picture, but not really wanting to be photographed. I'll remember the pain, but also the smiles and all the things she made possible for me from Little League to Cub Scouts, to PTA meetings. She was the classic martyr because her kids always came first. Ma, just want you t know that I never forgot.