While I was working on the second and third drafts of my memoir in 2008, I questioned whether or not I had the perseverance and desire to complete it. It had been a year of personal crises, one after the other. Depression hit me hard, and it was difficult to maintain my daily life, much less write a book.
On April 21st, after eight long years of struggling with the devastating effects of Alzheimer’s, my mother passed away. I had looked at her withered, lifeless body that early morning and was relieved her battle was over. Yet I wondered if I’d been a good daughter: traveling when I was able from my home in California to Chicago where my sister, Judy, had arranged Mom’s care; keeping up with her condition and living situation; and when Judy was overwhelmed with the task of being Mom’s guardian, deciding to move Mom by me. Ultimately, however, Judy and I disagreed on the quality of the nursing home I’d chosen and Mom remained in Illinois.
But had I done enough? I wasn’t sure. I mourned my mother deeply.
I wasn’t ready to be parentless. Less than a month later, when my husband of 35 years asked me for a divorce, I thought, who but a mother and a father can offer the consolation and unconditional love I needed? My children were exceptionally loving, and my siblings and friends offered encouragement. Yet I longed to hear my parents’ voices.
Determined to make a life for myself, I packed clothes, books, and furniture and left our two-story, hillside house with a view of the valley into my own home: a condominium on one level with a small backyard, located in a secluded, quiet neighborhood. With my children nearby, a beautiful grandson born a month before Mom’s passing, and an energetic Shih Tzu puppy I bought from a breeder near Sacramento, I started over.
I also created comfortable writing spaces in my guest room, office, and courtyard and returned to my memoir. It proved to be a true companion, both familiar and comforting. It was like I had my mother close by my side. One way or another, even in times of crises, I could count on our story. It wasn’t going anywhere.