Tuesday, November 2, 2010

This one is for you, Mom

I got some news from my sister last night that my mother, May Ann, isn't doing well. She's been battling pneumonia for several months and has been in and out of the hospital several times. She's now in a nursing home and has decided to discontinue her medication. I'll be going to Maryland to visit her this weekend.

She once told me that my father used to sing this song to her when they were dating. It is particularly significant that a few years later, their small but growing family was stationed in San Juan, Puerto Rico, where I was born. I was too young to remember that time, but my mother's memory of this Caribbean song has always been connected, in my mind, to that time.

My mom and I have always had a difficult relationship and have been estranged for over a decade. I don't regret the choice I made to sever my ties with her, but I do regret that it was necessary. What this song reminds me of is that once upon a time, my mother was just a pretty young girl from Jersey City who fell in love with a dashing young cadet in the Coast Guard Academy. Their future was a blank slate and filled with possibilities. When I hear it, I flash forward to the way things turned out and it breaks my heart.

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