About My Story…

Posted July 20, 2015

These pages tell the story of how life changed forever the day my mother suffered a stroke in 2007. I was unable to make time bring her back or keep time from taking her further away. So I collected and ordered words to describe the process of heartbreak and spirit-mending I experienced. Many days, months, and years were consumed with the routines of care giving. But every day included reminders of life with Mom in the 1960s.

I was a preteen then, enveloped by the guidance, love, and sometimes chaos my family provided. I learned to accept and appreciate those memories. Each one explained a part of Mom and a part of me.


On a sunny late spring day, my mother’s brain attacked itself. In an instant her battle with stroke began. One syllable and six letters seems simple. What followed was nothing but complicated. We’ll never know the number of attacks. Was it one, two, three, more? It doesn’t matter. Medical records document the powerful, chaotic, and inescapable electrified battle waged inside her brain.

Complicated and dramatic, just like her 82-year life, she suffered both forms of the most common strokes: hemorrhagic and ischemic. I looked up these strange words on WebMD. Neither had been torn off my Word-A-Day calendar. Neither were in my family lexicon nor my book of crossword puzzle hints. This was the first brain attack in my family.

Countless vocabulary words have introduced themselves over the past seven years. I located some in the pages of an outdated Keeton Biological Sciences text still on my shelf from undergraduate days. I found others in a pharmacology text decaying in my basement, pages stuck fast by mold and time.

Between mini- and maxi- crises I reviewed that vocabulary list, assigning pop self- quizzes on the definition and application of each entry.

If that sounds tiring, it was. But when I am tired, I know I am alive. Being alive seems peculiarly important. My days are spent rewinding and fast-forwarding time. I live few moments in anything my yoga mates would consider the present. Finding myself in that space of exposed reality, I am pierced with insecurity. During times of unsettled weariness in mornings and evenings, I mentally articulate and sulk over my circumstances. Caffeinated afternoons remind me even more could be lost.

Being tired and wired pre-empts me from living in the moment.

I gradually created a ledger in my mind. The bold-faced heading at the top read “My Pseudo-perspective on the Balance of Living.” Rows and columns represented proportionate losses and gains. Close inspection revealed how unreconciled my life had become.