friday was my mother’s 81st birthday. she did not remember until my husband and i told her. i spent the next 4 days with her. i washed her hair like the way she washed mine when i was young. making sure i got all the tangles out. i blew dry it with a bristle brush. i made sure she changed her sweater. her underwear. a fresh pair of socks. my dad said he did not know she couldn’t remember how to shower or dress herself. i wonder how long it had been since warm water and soap touched her body.

my mother was always a pistol. she always had a slightly sarcastic line when appropriate. we were with a new psychiatrist today hoping to get some advice about her medications.

the psychiatrist asked “how many children do you have?”

my mother looked at me and I answered for her. “two.”

the psychiatrist asked “any grandchildren.”

i answered again for my mother “my mother has 2 amazing grandchildren from my sister. i was never that lucky to have kids.”

my mother looked at me dead in the eyes and said “maybe you didn’t want any.”

i am a first generation italian-american who grew up in southern new jersey. Life is amazingly beautiful and devastating. Sometimes in the same day.

i am a first generation italian-american who grew up in southern new jersey. Life is amazingly beautiful and devastating. Sometimes in the same day.