7.01.2024

last full day in southern oregon (day 6)

The StoryCorps booth, New York City, 2004
Many readers have reached out here or on Facebook with thoughts and comfort about my mother. I appreciate it very much. I know you have experienced your family's own version of this. 

My mother has been disappearing, bit by bit. My mom and I used to talk about everything -- books, art, travel, food, politics, and of course the minutiae of daily life. Gradually, over time, that has disappeared. Our phone calls now are not conversations at all. They are opportunities to hear each other's voices, speak some pre-programmed responses, and to say "I love you".

Which is no small thing. She is still here. We can still do that. That won't always be true, but it right here, in the present, it is. And we're savouring it.

I often miss my mom. Later today, it will be painful to say goodbye. I know that. However... this trip has not been sad. It has been joyous. 

My mother is happy. She is surrounded by people she loves. She is still her. Still herself. A tiny, diminished version of herself, but still very much herself. Seeing her enjoying life has been wonderful, incredible.

Many, many times, I have wondered, how bad will it get before she dies? And to be very honest, I hope she passes on peacefully before the dementia reaches the final and worst stages. But for now, in this present moment, she is alive, she is not in pain, she is happy, and we are all holding on to that.

More eating, more laughing, more hugging

Yesterday the rest of the California family -- nephew, niece-in-law, toddler -- packed up and left. My SIL cleaned and put the house back together, I did some laundry, and we enjoyed the lovely quiet. Eventually we got ourselves together and went back to the old apartment -- more sorting and trashing -- before picking up mom for dinner.

We had another family dinner, the last of this trip, with Oregon nephew, niece-in-law, and the darling tween girl. I wish I saw her more often! She is very special to me, and I'm working on ways for us to be more connected.

Connie and Laura, the interview

Also yesterday: the StoryCorps interview! While going through my mother's things, my brother and SIL found the CD of my interview of our mother for StoryCorps

The project had just been rolled out on NPR. There was a booth in New York's Grand Central Terminal, where you could interview someone and get a recording of it. Allan has the audio file, but we didn't know where the CD was, and we haven't listened to it in 20 years. In fact, it was almost exactly 20 years: June 10, 2004. 

Allan and I were still living in New York. We had already applied to emigrate to Canada and were waiting for news. My mother and I were celebrating our birthdays (June and July) as we did for many, many years: the annual Herring Fest at Grand Central Oyster Bar. That year, it was timed to coincide with StoryCorps.

And here we were, 20 years later, listening to 73-year-old Connie being interviewed by 43-year-old Laura. It was beautiful, a treasure. (Also, I did a really good interview. It helps to have professional experience!)

At the time, in 2004, my mother also interviewed me. It was weird, and I didn't enjoy it. That part of the experience left me with some unpleasant feels, so I went again, with a friend, and we interviewed each other. We were co-coordinators of the Haven Coalition abortion access organization. Hopefully that audio exists somewhere, too.

Today we are heading to Portland. As in, Powell's.

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