She used to write backwards almost as fast as forwards. When I was a boy at summer camp in Wisconsin I received letters from home that could only be read by holding them to a mirror.
They came with a box of cookies. I admit eating the cookies before wondering how to read the letters.
This is Mother's Day and my mother is a remarkable woman, just like yours. She is 90 years old.
When I was a boy I was certain she had eyes in the back of her head because even when she wasn't looking she knew when I was doing something wrong.
I married a woman with the same ability.
I remember one Saturday morning grumbling that my pancakes weren't coming fast enough. So mom flipped them at me across the kitchen, hot off the grill one after another.
She tutored me in math and stayed up half the night helping me finish school papers I had put off until the last minute.
She comforted my brother, sister and I when things went wrong and when we dragged it on too long she told us it was time to quit feeling sorry for ourselves.
She was born in 1920 and had a storybook childhood in Chicago. Her parents immigrated from Norway and Sweden. She is a child of the Great Depression; a World War II bride; the mother of baby boomers. She is the last of her greatest generation in our family.
Before she went gray, which she has always blamed on me, she had a wisp of white hair above her forehead. She loved teaching.
She is one of millions of mothers this Mother's Day living with dementia.
It's such a hard word.
She knows who we are, but she's very confused. She lives in a world that was years ago. She's in a skilled nursing facility. Sometimes she cries and is angry with us and I don't blame her.
But I'm not thinking about that today. Today I'm remembering letters written backwards, pancakes flipped across the kitchen, eyes in the back of her head. I'm remembering Christmases, birthdays, vacations, family dinners, which she made special. I'm remembering singing in the car and laughter.
It's a good day for memories. It's a good day to make memories. Make lots of them because time is so short.
Happy Mother's Day, mom.
I'll always remember.
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