I’m going to say thank you to Doug at his terrific blog Elusive Trope for nominating me for the Three Days, Three Quotes Challenge.
How the challenge works: I nominate three others to also embrace this challenge and, on three consecutive days, to provide a quote along with your take on it. As far as I can see, that take can be a post (like this one will be), or a poem, or a photo. Hey, how about a song, or spoken word?
Here are my nominations:
And now, the quote. As a warning, it’s a little heavy.
Men are what their mothers made them.
–Ralph Waldo Emerson
My mother died last year, three days after Christmas, and today is her birthday. We were very close when I was growing up. My father was, for many years, out of the picture except on weekends, and she was the literal center of my world. The older I got, she told me that I would grow up and leave her, and I swore, I promised that I would always take care of her. She had a tremendous fear of being left alone. If she had one defining characteristic, it was that.
Of course, I did grow up and got married, and moved out. Even before that, the older I got, the more complicated my relationship with her became. She loved secrets and kept some real whoppers from me, some which I will never ever get to the bottom of now that she’s gone.
Her mother died of Alzheimer’s. She was terrified that she would develop it too, and since she was already a bit scatterbrained even when she was younger, was convinced that it would claim her. Ultimately, it did take her. She was 80 when she died. And I was not there for her or with her.
We’d had a parting of the ways some fifteen years prior. And without being specific–even thought the principal players are now dead–she made a choice that I disagreed with, and didn’t want my young family involved with. So I made a choice that separated us. And though we kept in touch by phone, I never saw her more than a handful of times years before she began forgetting the names of my children.
There’s a pretty good chance I’ll develop Alzheimer’s. Maybe it’s karma for being a bad son, or just seriously fucked up genetics.
Are men what their mothers make them? I don’t know. I was her last child, her baby. I got more than my share of attention. My mother loved me. I loved my mother. But I felt like I couldn’t have her in my life. And the guilt of it sometimes crushes me.