Thursday, October 21, 2010

I remember Mama

There it is, the light at the end of the tunnel. That’s where I’m hoping my mother is today. The journey has been dark and painful, but now it’s nearing its end.

The confusion, anxiety and paranoia that took hold of my mother’s mind over the last two years is giving way to the calm that rests just the other side of eternity. It’s right there in the near distance, just waiting for her to step forward.

It’s a sacred time for Mom and for all of us, her family. We spend our days sitting with her, making sure she is comfortable with lots of help from the nurses, aides and other professionals at the William Breman Jewish Home and Weinstein Hospice.

There’s something special about these last days, moments when each of us in our own way can offer a whispered goodbye. Each gesture my mother makes as she sleeps, each word she manages to utter has a power that is inexplicable.

My brother Larry tells Mom he loves her and he hears her respond with similar words; my daughter hears her grandmother call out a small endearment, “Hey, Pa,” one of the names Mom used for my father; she flinches and we flinch, she breathes easily and so do we.

Last night, as the nurses spent a few moments making Mom a bit more comfortable, I stepped out of her room and found myself in a nearby public area that features a large flat screen television on one wall. There was no one in the room, but a black and white movie was playing.

I couldn’t recall the name of the film and only had a vague memory of the story. A young woman wanted to be a writer. Her mother was chatting with her, offering words of encouragement and advice. She was telling her daughter that she needed to write stories about what she knew.

It all felt so familiar, and as the daughter (Barbara Bel Geddes) listened and then protested, “But Mama, I haven’t done anything,” my throat tightened and tears began to spill down my cheeks. The movie is an ode to motherhood, focusing on the life of a Norwegian family in San Francisco around the turn of the last century.

The daughter realizes that her family is what she knows best and that her “Mama” could easily be the focus of a story. The film ends with a postman delivering a letter from a publisher, buying her story, and the family sitting around the kitchen table as the young author begins reading her manuscript.

As the camera pulls back and the music swells, Barbara Bel Geddes reads the opening sentence of her story and the title of the movie, “I Remember Mama”.

Next door, my family was together, remembering our Mama. The ebb and flow of life has stopped momentarily and we wait. The light beckons.

A GOOD DAY: Me and Mom (photo above) all dressed up and ready to celebrate at my daughter Lauren’s wedding.


  1. May your beautiful mother merit a peaceful passing at the end of this long and difficult journey. Your family is in my prayers tonight.

  2. thinking of you, Ron. what a loving son your Mother has, and a gifted writer. Beth

  3. Ron, our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. One journey is coming to an end, and another is just beginning. She will live on in all of you.
    Alice & Brian

  4. Ron, you and your family are in our thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.

    Mom has been a blessing to those who have known and loved her, and her legacy will continue to live in the hearts of her family and friends.
    -Ava & Irwin