December 3, 1924 – the date of my mom’s birth, the anniversary of which slipped by with only a hiccough of melancholy. Probably there are many other dates in her life that deserve more note, particularly the date of my sister’s birth and especially the date of my own, which to my way of thinking, had to have been the ultimate accomplishment. (I’m only half kidding as I did present a rather difficult delivery)
A date that inspires more celebration than her birth would be the date of her death, October 1, 2019. Just shy of the 95th anniversary of her birth, she had been longing for death for many years. Dementia, of which she was acutely aware, had robbed her of all joy in life, despite a position of utter ease. She was able to live almost independently in the granny flat she had designed and helped build (she dug most of the septic pit) to the day of her final exit. But she had lost herself.
In the years between 1924 and 2019 she confidently parlayed her cloistered farm upbringing and narrow religious views into an adventurous life that might be admired by many men. I don’t think it ever occurred to her that there was anything a man could do that she couldn’t do better. From her choice of professions, first studying at an all Japanese school for chick sexing, the tuition for which she borrowed from her father, to becoming a real estate agent and ultimately investor, she simply did whatever she wanted.
By today’s standards, my sister and I grew up rather feral though not without some essential training in manners and hygiene. We knew better than to be cheeky with our elders and not to chew with our mouth open. Beyond the basics, we were left to the village to shape our understanding of how to make our way in life. When the time came, we were taught the fundamentals of procreation and the avoidance thereof. I took the lessons seriously; my sister not as much.
When Mum first noticed the symptoms of dementia, she took great pleasure in reading the memoir she had written while still agile of mind. She, like the rest of us, marveled at her chutzpah and reveled in reading about adventures she had almost forgotten. As the disease progressed though, the protagonist of her biography became a stranger to her and she lost interest. She gradually lost interest in everything as nothing in life related to her. She had evaporated.
My sister and I have both made attempts at writing a memoir, but both of us are better at chronicling our days via blogs, journals and correspondence. Now that Babs is anticipating moving into her own tiny granny flat, she’s consolidating decades of writing into cohesive digital files. We both expect that we will enjoy them as we decline but we have no expectation that anyone else will ever read them. None of her daughters are big readers but our epistles will have served their purpose when we’re finished.