Thursday, May 5, 2016


The night before my mother died, I was hit with a wave of panic.  I had spent all week with her, watching her ebb, but that night, for some reason, I succumbed to desperate longing.  I wanted my mother.  It was everything I could do to not go back to the small dementia facility where she lay, silent.

She had performed the long goodbye of Alzheimers.  We watched her fade for ten years.  It had been so long since I had seen the woman she had been.  But that night I wanted anything I could get.  Because I knew she was going - she was boarding the train.  She would not be coming back.

I still feel that some days, that acute desire to have her close.  People have been in and out of the shop all day, browsing for something for their mothers.  I wish I was.

My mother has been the most influential person in my life.  For such a shy, gentle creature this might be surprising.  Every ounce of goodness in me has it’s root in my mom.  Every strong moral, every bit of generosity.

I think about her every day, particularly when I’m navigating the narrows of parenting.  What Would Margaret Do? is a fair enough question.  She had a unique ability to let me be.  To allow me to explore myself and my environs but also provide a safe harbor when I needed to retreat.  If I can do that for my kids - encourage their independence and simultaneously assure them they’re always loved and safe - that will be a job well done.

Mother’s Day is a Hallmark holiday, I suppose.  Easy to dismiss.  But, really, any opportunity to remember and thank my mom should be taken.

I miss her.  I miss her goofiness after a half a glass of wine, cheeks aflame.  I miss her voice, humming off-key.   The opera blaring while she made stroganoff in the electric fry pan.  The sound of her swishing the dust mop around the house in the early morning.  The tiny divot in her eyelid, evidence of a forgotten childhood injury.  I miss her delighted laugh, rare and musical.  I miss how much she loved me.

Maybe I should have driven over there that night, rang the bell at 11:30, gained admittance to her room, held her warm, utterly familiar, hand.  Told her one more time that I loved her.  She wouldn’t have known the difference.  But I could have had one more sip of the elixir that was my mother.  One more before it was gone.


  1. Thanks Liz, thanks a lot! I did 30 pull-ups at my house and had just finished a pretty serious Mtn Bike ride, was feeling kinda tough in fact. Now this group of teens standing outside Trader Joe's is wondering why the hell a 45 year old dude is crying like a baby in his truck. I sure miss your mom's laugh too!

    Worse still, wherever MY mom ends up, here is the likely scenario after reading your goddamn beautiful piece. "Mr. Herrman, visiting hours are clearly posted. You've been here 24 hours a day for 3 months straight. As of today, we are treating you as an in-patient (for several reasons) and billing you accordingly."

    "but....but....I just want one last sip...!"

    Muriel's final words: "I don't know who the hell this lanky, foul smelling camper is, but I want him out of my room! He's been bugging the crap out of me."