My relationship with my mother was…complicated.  She was first generation American-born. Her father emigrated from Lithuania when he was in the single digits after his sister made enough money to bring him over by working in a sweatshop in lower Manhattan. He grew up to marry another immigrant and my mother was the only daughter of four children.

When she met my father, he was lighthearted and physically demonstrative. My mother was drawn to this quality like a moth to the light. When he began courting her, my grandparents had not spoken to each other in four years. I was told that they did not like my father because he donned an eye patch after losing an eye in a handball accident. This did not make sense to me, but then nothing much did growing up. Most of my mother’s family had been killed in “the war.” I remember a photograph of a large family with many children, most of them deceased. I remember as a small child looking into the faces of the children and wondering how this could possibly be true.

I don’t think my mother was prepared for having a family. She probably would have been a successful businesswoman if she had been educated. She had been advanced a few  grades in elementary school because of her innate intelligence. She went to college for a short period, but women had very few options at that time. So at nineteen years old she had a husband and a baby. Within nine years she had three children and she was over her head emotionally. My mother was more suited to be a blackjack dealer then to be a mother and wife. When I think about it now, I imagine she was in the proverbial meatgrinder emotionally.

I  suspect that by the time I arrived she was burned out.  Most of my childhood my mother was very ill with something mysterious. It made her even last available and more self-centered, as she had to navigate serious health issues. There was so much deprivation in my family. Perhaps that accounts for many the many addictions that manifested.

When my mother was gravely ill during 2006, my siblings thought it necessary for me to fly to Pennsylvania to say goodbye. She had pneumonia and was not expected to survive the week. I flew by myself from Louisiana to Pennsylvania in a wheelchair. They didn’t tell my mother that I was coming in case I couldn’t manage the flight. When I wheeled into my mother’s room I saw a look on her face that I had never seen before, especially directed at me. A profound look of love and excitement was all over her face. Until that moment I never believed that my mother loved me. Never. To this day this is how she appears in my meditations.

My mother recovered from that bout of pneumonia to survive a few more.  During 2010, Casey’s future in-laws came to my home in Colorado for the weekend to meet me. We had a lovely weekend together and on our last night together, I got that fateful telephone call. Mother had passed. The following morning, my children prepared to begin their journey to Pennsylvania, where the funeral would take place. Due to the level of difficulty for me to travel, I chose to say my goodbyes in a more solitary and personal way. Nina helped me into bed and I happened to look at a white surface next to my bed and I saw a black dot. To my for horror I shrieked, “ IS THAT A TICK?” Nina quickly replied, “NO.. well…” And she took it between her nails and squeezed it and said, “well it is dead now.”

In the middle of the Colorado winter, at the end of December, there was a deer tick next to my bed. To give this context, the form of multiple sclerosis that I have been struggling with for almost twenty years stems from multiple opportunistic infections or Lyme disease, which is caused by a deer tick!

Any comments?

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