I debated whether to blog this trip and once I decided to, I wondered whether or not I could possibly call it a Virtual Vacation. This is clearly not going to be an exotic armchair adventure in Bali or a Scottish adventure or a travelogue through Mexico. It’s going to be a journey into old age in America. My partner Karyn and I are taking my elderly mother to Florida for one last visit to see her last surviving sibling, her sister Esther. It’s certainly much more of a mission of mercy than a vacation, but I am tired of compartmentalizing my life—the entertaining, exciting parts, the seductive lure of worldwide traveler, me as the adventurer, and me as the daughter, me as the last remaining lifeline for my aging mother. This trip is going to be an exploration of the lines where duty ... [Continue Reading]
My brother and I packed up my mother’s mobile home, #94 at DeAnza Mobile Home Park, in three days. We cleaned it out three weeks after I’d brought Mom in for a “trial” at Sunshine Villa, a trial I knew would last the rest of her life, if we were lucky. If we weren’t lucky, she could end up somewhere far, far worse.
Mom didn’t know that she was leaving her home for the last time. Because a month-long trial was all she could agree to. But in her case a month might as well have been a year. Her sense of time—except for the eternal now—and the far past, especially around the 1940’s—is pretty much ... [Continue Reading]
I dropped by Mom’s place today to remind her (for the sixth time) that I’ll be leaving to go to Mexico tomorrow. I’m heading back to teach at the San Miguel Writer’s Conference for the 4th year in a row, and I wanted to be sure that Mom would be okay while I was gone. While she sat beside me in a nest of newspapers, I wrote in giant letters on her calendar, “LAURA IN MEXICO” across each of the 13 days I’ll be gone. This trip means more to Mom than some of my others. Mom used to go to San Miguel herself every winter, for a dozen years, way before I ever went there, to escape the New Jersey snow. She even thought of moving there, but never quite rallied the courage. Three years ago, I brought her with me to visit her old friends while I attended the conference. It’s hard to believe ... [Continue Reading]
I was going to post the final segment of my posts on marketing, but this piece was much more immeidate for me this month, and so I decided to post this one instead. I remember Mom standing at the top of steps on her little landing outside her back door. We were leaving DeAnza Mobile Home Park, her home for the past four years. I knew that she might be leaving for the very last time, but in her mind, she was just spending the night at my house and then going for a month-long trial, to check out Sunshine Villa, a classy assisted living place up above the Boardwalk in Santa Cruz. (Why do they give homes for old people names like that? Sunshine Villa? Really? Though I suppose Sunshine Villa is a lot better than Twilight Manor, one of the assisted living places on Chanticleer I pass every ... [Continue Reading]
I have spent the last three months creating a book to honor my mother for her 85th birthday. I began by emailing our whole extended family, reaching out to my mother's old and new friends, to anyone who had been connected to her through her long life spent acting, storytelling, folk dancing, traveling and always being a "people person." I asked people to send me a photograph of themselves, as well as any photos they had of her. And as the responses came in, the project grew and grew and grew until I had to create two volumes-one filled of family history and family memories and the other, focused on her ... [Continue Reading]
A couple of months back, I gave my students assignment, "Write about 10 things you know the real truth about." Once we honed our list of subjects, we wrote wrote a piece that succinctly summarized what we knew about each of the ten topics--what we knew deeply about them. Last month, I shared a couple of the subjects I'd put on my own list. Here's another: how to make peace with a mother you're estranged from. This is a subject I know a lot about, mainly because I've successfully reconciled with (and have an excellent relationship with) my own mother, from whom I was estranged for seven years. I got so interested in the topic of estranged relationships and how to mend them, that I wrote a whole book about it, [Continue Reading]
I wrote this piece in response to a prompt I gave in the Tuesday night class--"I Can't Believe..." I can't believe my father is dead. I can't believe it was ten years ago today that I raced up to San Francisco Medical Center and drove around the visitor parking lot frantically looking for a non-existent parking space. Desperate, I finally pulled into an illegal spot marked with screaming, white diagonal lines, and at the end of that very long day, at 3 AM, when my father was dead and the world has stopped, I came out to a $180 ticket. The world hadn't stopped at all.
I can't believe that ten years ago was the day that I raced into the intensive care unit and found my father and his love, Ophelia, in the E.R. They had stuffed Abe's bed in a storage closet because ... [Continue Reading]