My mom passed away twenty years ago yesterday.  Um, yeah.  Her death anniversary always makes me a little mopey.   And sappy.

My mother’s name was Eleanor. I am told I look remarkably like her, although I hope the comparison is based on how she looked when she was alive and in excellent health. My mother was very nurturing. She would be the first person to turn to in a any sort of crisis. To this day, I still meet people who remember her as one of the nicest, kindest people they had ever known.

There are certain rules to be observed when writing about our parents. Especially dead ones. We can only describe them as transparent figures with golden haloes, smiling down at us from heaven, large flag billowing in the breeze optional, just before the end credits roll. No embellishment here: I loved my mother. She did such a good job at raising me to be my own person, I ended up doing pretty much the opposite of what she wanted.

Death by illness is really most hateful. It is nothing like Homer, the Old Testament, and Tolkien led me to expect. It is not noble and awe-inspiring. No one delivers a final soliloquy. It is as abrupt and banal as the flicking of a switch. The squiggly line on the monitor straightens out, the defibrillator doesn’t even go whomp, the epinephrine is useless, the breathing becomes shallower and shallower, and even before the doctor pronounces the words, you know. It just sort of feels empty.

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