Remembering my mother

My parents in 1956.
My parents in 1956.

Today would be my mother’s 86th birthday. She died eight years ago after a twenty-five year battle with Early Onset Alzheimer’s Disease. I could write a book about her illness and what it did to all of us, especially my father. Maybe I will someday. 

Today, in her memory, I want to share a dream I had while visiting her and my father some twenty-years ago. I like to think that this dream was a foretelling of how they would meet again, the day my father died, three years after she did.

A floor-length mirror hung in the upstairs hall of the house I grew up in. A small lamp sat on a table in front of it. You could choose three illumination levels, and I always picked the least, loving the eerie glow. 

In my dream, I am sleeping in the yellow bedroom, which is across the hall from the mirror. I rise and look out the door where the mirror is to the left in front of me. It is dark, and only the small bulb at the top of the lamp is lit. 

They are standing together with one in front of the other. At first, I’m looking at the people themselves and don’t notice their reflection. My father holds her hands in his as she turns to face him. She is still able to walk but not alone, and she vacantly stares past him as her body stoops in a pause but keeps rocking and jigging. 

And then I see their reflection. 

She is not younger, but she is well, and her timeless face awakens as love and recognition wash over it. Her eyes shine as she cries, seeing him again for the first time in so many years. He raises her hands to his face and kisses them. 

***

“Let us not look for you only in memory,
Where we would grow lonely without you.
You would want us to find you in presence,
Beside us when beauty brightens,
When kindness glows
And music echoes eternal tones. “

John O’Donohue

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