My Mother Was A Superhero


  1. I don't have a lot of childhood memories. I mean that literally. Before about high school, I only have the foggiest recollections of anything, and I'm fairly certain a good chunk of what I do remember was just stuff people told me. I remember emotional aggregates much more clearly. It's like memory as synesthesia. I remember what it felt like, sometimes a flash of places and images, but mostly it's just a wash of feeling. Admittedly, a lot of those feelings weren't happy ones. I remember I was restless, even as a child. I don't think I was truly happy until fifth grade, and my mom and I moved to California. That was the first place that felt like home.
  2. I'm 45 now, married and living back on the East Coast. I never stopped being restless, and indeed, I still feel that way constantly. But I'm old enough now to understand it a bit better. And what I marvel at, from this distance, is how difficult it must have been for my mom to cope with all of that. My father died young and suddenly, so she found herself a single mother in her early 20s, with a 2-year-old son. To add to the picture, I think it's fair to add that neither side of my family was particularly stable. In the end, my mother raised me alone.
  3. Thinking about that makes me realize that I have never, ever in my life had that sort of strength. It's something that I marvel at, from across the distance of time. I don't remember a lot of the early part of it clearly, but I know enough now to realize how Herculean an effort that had to have been. Raising a child on your own is a superhuman task, but under those circumstances, I can't even imagine, and I was actually there. I don't think I could handle what she handled. Everything I've accomplished with my life, all the publications and awards and whatever? What she accomplished leaves it all in the dust. That I'm here and healthy, stable and relatively sane are a testament to her strength. She was a superhero, and for that, I'll always be grateful.
  4. Happy Mother's Day, mom.
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