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“I Just Want to Lead a Normal, Active Life.”

May 14, 2012

Cheeseburger, fries and a hot fudge sundae in the lobby of her nursing home.

Some of her favorites for Mother’s Day dinner.

We ate in silence for a few moments.  We would ask a question, only to get a blank stare or a frustrated “What now?”  in response.  Occasionally she would start a sentence, but get frustrated as it faded before completion.  Conversation was largely non-existent.

Sometimes she would smile at us, nod and sigh.

Other moments a fear of some sort passed over her face.  She’d glance around frantically, focus on one of us, and settle down again.

We mentioned that this summer she would be 100.  “Oh, that’s right,” she said, in a voice that was suddenly firm and echoed from her years as a teacher and businesswoman.

We asked what all we should do to celebrate that birthday.  Immediately she sat up straighter in her wheelchair and said, “I just want to lead a normal, active life.”

Before we could say anything, she flashed us a smile and vanished back into absorption with her french fries.

Leaving us stunned.

And missing her more than ever.


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  1. Sometimes I want to call my Mom like I use to just to vent and hear her sweet advice. You’re right, It makes me miss her.


  2. Thoroughly enjoyed your writing, Joe, especially as I remember when Aunt Ruth led ” a normal, active life”. I have such wonderful memories of her as a perfect aunt, whom I was so lucky to have.


    • Rusty, thank you!

      There sure is a lot nobody told us about when we were young; or maybe some of us didn’t listen real well.


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