November 29, 2001

An Anniversary of Motherly Proportions

horoscope of November 29thToday is the 30th anniversary of my mother’s death. It’s amazing to think it’s been that long and I’m now older than she ever was. I often think about how Mom would feel if she suddenly came back and saw how life had changed during her absence.

She’d wonder what that “TV” was doing on my (and everyone else’s) desk. When I’d tell her what I do with it and that my daughters have never heard of a typewriter she’d be amazed. The early days of television were to her as wonderous as the early days of the net were to me. She’d be proud of me but wonder what the hell a web designer was! And she’d be shocked I have a cat instead of a dog!

Mom would be surprised our civilization hasn’t evolved much since her time. Pearl Harbor, Joe Macarthy’s Communist witch hunt, and JFK were important cultural milestones for her generation. We have the Persian Gulf War and now this.

Oh, she’d wonder how I got from LA to DC and be happy I’d really become an artist (she knew I was going to art school). She’d take credit for my inheriting those genes. While it would take some time for her to adjust to my (I like to think) more evolved sense of self, sly sense of humor, and sense of the world around me, she’d understand how those things made their way into my art. I was just beginning to stand up for myself and speak my mind in 1971.

She’d love my wife and children. I think she would get the most pleasure out of knowing them and their relationships with her would ease the shock of the new. Children haven’t changed much. Young, bountiful energy that allows adults to see the world in an entirely different way is still possible and exciting. They’d show her around! Yeah, she’d stick close to home for the first few weeks. That’s for sure.

I remember the night she died. It was a long illness. Very long. While I was sad, I also saw her imminent death as a relief for all of us. I laid in bed, alone that night, wondering if it was over. I’m not sure I ever really got a chance to say goodbye.

And we’d get to talk about those last few years. I’d be able to tell her how awful it was to not be able to acknowledge and share her final illness with her. It was a different time. Both her doctor and my father had decided it was best not to tell her she was dying (they were afraid she’d commit suicide if she knew —that’s pretty ironic!).

Leaving her that warm early January morning to return to school in the snowy Midwest was probably the hardest day of my life. I’d only found out about her illness a few weeks before and my father was adamant that I return to school as if everything was normal. Being given six months to live is not a long time and I thought I’d never see her again. Our goodbye was anything but normal to me.

This was much harder than that night she died 2 1/2 years later. But I’m convinced she knew near the end. She had just celebrated her 25th wedding anniversary but decided not to wait around for her birthday two weeks later. She was the one who decided to stop all procedures to prolong her life. We just never spoke about any of it. And I regret that.

And now, after all this time, others will join me in sharing November 29th as the anniversary of the passing of someone special. This is a day to remember.

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