I never knew what happened to Viola but was so self- absorbed I didn’t really care. Early in the summer Mom informed me we would have a new woman who was coming to work for us and encouraged me to keep the stereo at a lower volume on the lady’s first visit. I was in a Diana Ross and the Supremes phase and preferred the speakers to vibrate as I sang along but I obligingly lowered the level for our potential new household addition.
Mom will be 85 next month and struggles with the ongoing physical and mental battles associated with Alzheimer’s in her ultimate race towards death. This past fall I moved her again to a different residence that is still in Texas but much closer to my second home which is also now in Texas. Alas, she’s two hours farther from Willie, and Willie has only been able to visit her once since her move.
When I consider the strength of these two women and their determination to rise above their inauspicious beginnings in an era when women weren’t valued for their strong wills, I feel a sense of admiration and respect and gratitude for the examples they’ve been for me and for Willie’s daughters, too. We are the children of our mothers and we reflect their strengths and weaknesses in black and white. Theirs was a mysterious bond that we may never fully understand, but the similarity of their physical and mental conditions in these last days is surreal and takes irony to a new dimension. Leora, one of Willie’s daughters, told me recently she thought Mom and Willie just might end their race toward death in a tie. I think it will be a photo finish.