The Weirdest Thing About This Thing With My Mom

Hey, I forgot to tell you guys. (And I’m sure by now you’re getting a tad bored with this whole Mom thing; I promise I’ll stop writing about it now. I mean … after this.) As some of you know (see my post One Novel Thought), I’m just now writing a novel.

For about two month now, as part of writing that book, I’ve been absolutely steeping myself in the memories I have of my mother—and in large part of when I was three and four years old, and my mother and I would be alone in our home after my father left for work, and my sister for school. I’ve been living in that physical and psychological space again; through my conjuring of that time of my life, my mother has come alive to me in a way that for me is unprecedented. For the first time in decades upon decades I’ve been again seeing her face, watching her move, hearing her voice. I have a freakishly good memory for my past, and for this novel I’ve been revisiting every last detail of that part of it in which my mom starred.

Isn’t that weird? I don’t in any dynamic way think about my mom at all, for forever—and then, for this novel, I completely immerse myself in the earliest memories I have of her, and I stay in that place for at least two months. She’s there, again, real as life to me: in the kitchen, in our dining room, ironing and folding clothes beside me as I sit on the floor listening to some records we used to have of a guy reading fairy tales. Bringing food to the table. Singing as she goes about her business in the house. (A music major in college, she was a gifted musician, and sang like an angel.)

And right as I’m reliving all that as deeply as I can—which I’ve never in my life done for so long, or in such a concentrated fashion—I find out she’s dead!

It’s astounding. On the one hand, I’m almost profoundly displeased that five years went by before I learned that she had died. On the other hand, I’m not so stupid that I don’t notice that God (excuse me, you non-religious types) chose this unbelievably precise time to reveal to me something so intimately connected to work I’m doing—work about my childhood that means more to me by far than anything I’ve ever done, creative or otherwise. When I said in the post linked to above that I’ve waited my whole life to write this book, I wasn’t kidding. It’s about my whole life (well, the first chunk of it)—which means, of course, that a great deal of it’s about my mother.

And whoosh—just like that, at this time, I found out she’s made the Big Exit.

I have no idea how people who don’t believe in God process this kind of coincidence. I don’t even think twice about it, man. I just go, “Wow. What a God.”

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  • Joy

    Awesome! God is amazing in His timing and perfection. I would love to have such a vivid memory of my childhood with my mother. While I'm blessed to still have her with me, I have exceptionally few memories of my childhood.

  • Very cool. My memory is also extremely vivid but only beginning around age 5. For me, its like I beamed into existence around mid-kindergarten year when I changed schools because my mother left my father. It's like I was not granted a vivid memory until then. Psychology? Coincidence? hmmm…

    Thinking back to my atheist days, I would simply ignore coincidences. There are plenty of things (thanks to him) to distract my attention away from him… which, in hindsight, is an absurd notion.

  • Joel

    I'm not tired of reading about mommy dearest… Your writing is always interesting, no matter how you feel about it. We are your sounding board, and gladly so.

  • Patty

    John, While some might find the timing ironic, I find it perfectly normal. While your mother was reaching back to you from the other side God knew it was time for you to know the full truth of her life, and death.

    Your mother’s married life holds some interesting secrets, since her husband of 25 years didn’t contact you immediately following her death. Was that her choice, or his? You’ll never really know, will you? Perhaps that’s the stuff to inspire another novel.

  • Lety

    Hi John,

    I’m looking forward to your novel. It sounds like you have been to hell and back, and I’m glad you’re here!

    The whole parenting thing is just amazing. So many people can’t and shouldn’t be parents.


  • Stuart

    This is all good stuff.

    Amongst other things your sharing helps give great perspective and consideration for facing these real life scenarios.

    It is always good and encouraging to see the hand of God at work in the lives of others, and hopefully one benefit of this is that we become better equipped to deal with our own crazy stuff.

    Share on!


  • Nora

    Isn’t there an expression somewhere about never really growing up until our mothers die, or something? Not sure what that has to do with anything, but it came to mind.

  • That’s really neat…thanks for sharing!

  • What a God, indeed.