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When last we left Anne on this blog, she was in her 20s, had committed her own mother to a mental hospital, been found by her long lost foster mother, was married to Ray and had a couple of young children.
Blur of raising four children, moving across the country when my father was transferred to the east coast. By her account, it was a major struggle to figure out what her husband and society expected of her and how to assert her own vague identity. The only thing she was sure of, was that she wanted to establish a normal family such as she had never had. I’m not so sure about the “normal” part, but the four of us siblings have a strong sense of family now as adults, so she was clearly successful. She has never been confident though, because she didn’t understand how fractious real families can be. With the fragmentation and special challenges of her youth, she had an idealized view of other families.
More blur. As a mother she was devoted, hardworking and competent. I remember her artistic ability and ingenuity. She made a spectacular Valentine’s box for my Grade 3 class. I learned competence,
stubbornness tenacity, organization and grammar from her. She encouraged me to sew, and we have had that hobby in common all these years. She was a very attractive woman but had zero understanding of what the concept of “cool” even meant, let alone what WAS cool. I understood the existence of “cool” but never figured out how to apply it to me. Still haven’t but now enjoy a style that one friend calls “urban utilitarian.” Works for me. On the other hand, Mom has always had matching scarf, belt, shoes and bag. [Last week I took her to the doctor in a wheelchair and she insisted on colour coordinating her sweatsuit.]
Anne’s mother Florence had lived in a mental hospital for about 20 years when better psychiatric drugs came into use and mental patients were moved back into the community. At the age of 75, she came to live with us. Her mood swings (she was probably bipolar) were often entertaining to us kids but less so to our parents.
To escape the tedium of mid-career boredom and the realization that most dreams don’t come true, Ray accepted an enticing job transfer to Venezuela. Florence went back to the west coast to live in a group home for old people.
The 2-year sojourn in Venezuela was a real adventure and afterward they came back to the west coast.
1970s and 1980s –
In 1977, Anne’s mother Florence died at the age of 90 after 7 years in a geriatric facility. Anne faithfully visited her twice a week and remembers those years as important and satisfying times with her mother. This is a point I have been pondering recently as I am now in that situation with her. A future post on that.
Anne started university in her 50s and slogged through philosophy, history of art, critical thinking, literature, etc., etc. This exacerbated her tendency to think and write in a convoluted and abstract way that fueled our discussions for all the years ahead! After about 15 years of part-time study she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree at the age of 68 – quite an achievement!
Meanwhile, for years, she and Dad took care of my kids two days a week so I could work part-time. My husband and I, and our children, were lucky to have the grandparents so close and involved. Every year, she also made a train trip across the country to visit my siblings and the other grandchildren.
1990s and 2000s –
Anne and Ray sold their house and moved to an apartment 6 km from our house.
And that, dear friends, covers quite a few years and brings us to old age. Here are my parents on the occasion of their 60th wedding anniversary. They look pretty good for 83 and 80!
My parents were individuals, which is why I could write Anne’s Story without saying much about Ray. Dad died in 2007. Although he doesn’t have a blogstory, he has a great epitaph, as described here.
Anne’s Story isn’t over yet.
By the way, if you see an advertisement below, it is not my choice and I have no idea what it will be. Maybe someday I will pay to get a commercial-free service!
2 thoughts on “Anne’s Story – Decades pass and a family grows up”
This is a beautiful story. How lucky you are to have your Mom still.
Thank you! Yes, I am lucky in the large scheme of things, but it sure isn’t easy at this stage. Mom is not going peacefully – she is fighting every indignity and is not feeling the serenity that one would hope for at the age of 91. It surprises me a little, and I think it is surprising her as well.
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