Vigorous & Colourful, late 1980s
It’s that time, again, Mothering Sunday. Mother’s Day, in American, though the latter is in May, not March. I remember how I used to buy a card for you, in March, then post it in time for Mother’s Day. It was a good plan, those years when I actually remembered where I’d put the flippin’ card. Those forgetful years, you received a card with no verse: often, with a cat on the cover.
Here’s a photo of our latest, by the way. I know you’d love him, if you met him. If you still rang every week, the first thing you’d say, after hello, would be, “How is the cat?”
The latest grand-cat, Al “the Pal”
I was listening to Sinatra a few minutes ago. I remember you telling me, several times over the years, about the time you & your friend Christie went to see him, in New York, when you were in your early 20s. Apparently, you stayed in your seats after the first concert, so you could see him again. It’s the only time I know of that you (sort of) broke the law.
This is the Sinatra song I’m told Dad played at your funeral. I remember the album, which one of us would have had to play for you, on account of you never figuring out how to work the stereo. How did you manage to play all those lovely old singles you bought, in your teens, and pre-marriage 20s? The ones you lugged along through at least two house moves: not just Sinatra, but also Gershwin, including “Rhapsody in Blue?”
I don’t remember you ever saying which one was your favourite song. I know Dad liked “Set ’em Up Joe”. I liked this one. It appealed to my angst-ridden, teenaged soul.
This is the fourth time I’ve written to you, via my blog, and God(s), on Mothering Sunday. One year, adrift on a sea of nostalgia,I wrote it on Mother’s Day, instead.
That first blog-letter to you was also the very first blog I wrote, back in 2014. It’s kind of a tradition, now, for to write to you once a year, and note the passing of another blog year, as well.
Your birthday is coming up soon: you would have been 90. I try to imagine you at that age. Sadly, the mental pictures I get reflect what you were like those last two years, when Alzheimer’s combined with Myasthenia Gravis to blot out your “vigorous and colourful personality”.
The phrase is a quote from a book blurb describing Baroness Ocrzy, author of the “Scarlet Pimpernel” books. “Pimpernel” was one of the paperbacks in my sister’s desk drawers. I think it was assigned for a high school class. Later, while at Wayne, I read some of the sequels in the main Detroit library, when I should have been studying, instead.
You loved that library, and the time you spent working there. Hell, you loved all libraries.
The magnificence that is Detroit Public Library
Writing this has helped calm me down. I’ve been a bit hypomanic of late: chatty, struggling at times to keep my conversations from turning into downloads, and a bit loud with it, too. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not too extreme, and the energy is great. Still, I have to watch it. I remember how, that first time I was in hospital, you drove to Fairlane, just to get me a lovely cat jumper, and some cat socks.
Summed it up, really
It’s a shame my version of your “vigorous & colourful personality” is bipolar-flavoured, but we can’t have it all, eh? If we could, you would never have developed Alzheimer’s. It’s a cruel disease, especially so for someone who lived to read, and think, and express her often Thatcher-esque opinions.
I like to think you understand why I destroyed those last few photos of you: the ones where your light was gone, and only a frail framework remained. I cannot imagine, had you still been able to express an opinion, you would have ever wanted to be photographed on such outstandingly bad hair days. You, the woman who always put on lipstick before she went out, even to the supermarket. Still, it gave Dad comfort to still be able to take your picture, I guess.
This is how I prefer to think of you: pretty in pink, bursting with pride at your son’s wedding. My vigorous, bookish, colourful mother.
Mom, aka Mum, late 1980s
Tagged: alzheimer’s, Baroness Orczy, bereavement, bipolar, cats, dementia, Detroit, Detroit Public Library, Frank Sinatra, grief, hypomania, libraries, Michigan, Mother’s Day, Mothering Sunday, myasthenia gravis, September of My Years, The Scarlet Pimpernel, Wayne State University