26 July 2012

Goodbye, old dog

My first very clear memory was of joy.  I recall that I felt wanted and part of something.  She held me in her arms and I looked at her.  I watched her as she watched me.  I suckled.  In that vivid picture I have no real way to describe what I see.  You see, I had no words so I had no way to describe my experience only pure memory.  But I see that picture.  I see her hair as it shined in the bright light, her face glowed as she smiled, and she made soft noises that comforted me.

I can see her eyes bright and feel her soft touch on my cheek.  And she looks happy.  I wish everyone could feel as welcome as I did.  Then the image drifts away.  Sometimes I long for those moments but I know those emotions are fantasy.  There are two types of regret one for those events that happened and one for those things that will never be again.  In my mind the regrets of moments I wish endured forever but are instead are transient are the most taxing regrets; they weigh me down because I know that with each breath I near my own end.

"Bupa, tell us more about your mommy, bupa, please."

She was a striking woman.

Ohh, I'm sorry, the pain, ooh, sometimes I will stop to moan I hope not to scream, ooh, don't mind me little ones ... it will pass ...

Now, there, see, it's gone. 

She was a woman of the highest character.  She always told me, "You are my little chocolate drop; no one is sweeter than you. "  I knew she meant it too because she kissed me constantly.  I was eleven years old, just beginning to feel independent, I had a girlfriend.  We would do our homework together.  And one day mother came in she couldn't help it she said.  "As cute as a drop of chocolate," she said and she kissed me all over my face, so many kisses.  I didn't care. I wanted more.  But the girl - my girlfriend - she was embarrassed.  Her face was red.  And mother brought us lemonade.  That was how it was with mother.  She was, as they say, a carefree waif but one of the soundest character and strength.

Sitting next to me one day she held my hand.  "Ach du lieber Gott, what will you be with yourself?" she wondered aloud as was her nature.  I had brought home my final report card for the sixth grade, another with all top scores.  I am not boasting.  I worked extremely hard for top of the class.  Mother would allow no alternative but I did not resist.  I wanted to make her as happy as she made me.  She sang softly each time I brought home my final marks cards.  Today was no different.  She loved to savor the moment.  She would make tea and add cinnamon to mine.  We'd sit and sing songs, talk about tomorrow and yesterday.  Then suddenly she'd tear open the envelope. "Ach du lieber Gott," she'd coo.  Strangely she would repeat the phrase when I'd be in trouble, too.  For if I did not clean my room, she'd exclaim, "Ach du lieber Gott! What will become of you?"  So I remember it well.  She kissed me as she was wont to do when she was pleased with me.  And I wished school were not on recess so I could earn high marks on the next tests.   Unlike many of my friends I loved school; I wanted to do well and I wanted to please. It was for this reason I studied and worked hard.  It did not come easy for me.  I never understood the faith of math but science and experiments were natural to me.  I realized that I was drawn to practical, utilitarian thought.   Later this would seem so remarkable to me because my mother was a dreamer and my very best friend.  But at that time, when I was a child, it all meant so very much to me.  My world was school and my mother.  I was so small and yet so large and proud.  I felt the center of the world was there in my home; my whole world revolved around her. 

That was her character. She was strong and devoted.  She remained that way through the war.  She became a walking skeleton.

Ooh, pain ... ooh ... please, pass me those pills there.  Yes, thank you. 

Now children you must come back later.  I am dying and I need rest now.  When you come back I will tell you about when I drowned in the old Brook pond.

Remind me later.  The pain is coming now.  Go quickly; take this money; bring us some ice cream for after supper.  Then I will tell you more.  Run along now, run ... along.

What is all of this about?  Why are we born to be put through so much misery?  If only all this could amount to something bigger, something unbelievable.  If only we could be unique.  But the real spectacle of our short lives is that it trickles down to a few disparate memories and growing pain - pain of dying, pain of forgetting and remembering.

I will close my eyes and there will be nothing or I will close my eyes and find myself in another world.  This is the only real mystery.  I cannot help think that one of these times I will close my eyes and reopen them to see her face, young and bright, her hair shining, and I suckle.

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