What Ever Happened to my Mother, Martha?

February 2, 2014

What ever happened to my mother is one of the top five questions I get about Boxing for Cuba. This probably has to do with the fact that I deal with my father’s death and don’t really mention my parents very much after this event. For this reason, I thought I would write a few lines to update those who are interested in this topic.

Mami will be ninety years old this coming June. Under most normal circumstances, a major birthday like this would trigger a family celebration, but not for my mother. She would not understand it and may even be frightened by one. As things stand, the long battle we all must wage with our aging bodies has taken its toll on Martha.  No longer is she the beautiful woman she once took such great pride in illustrating, as her body and looks have been ravaged by Father Time. She is now wheelchair bound, must wear adult diapers and requires the 24 hour a day care she receives from the facility she is in.

Most notably, an advanced case of dementia has almost devoured all of her mind. Her complete surrender to this disease is clearly inevitable, but it is here that I take some solace in my mother’s condition. On the one hand, she will not find the peace and joy my father did when he met someone to love and who returned that love until the day he died. But on the other hand, Mami’s peace perhaps comes in the best way that it could for her, the loss of her memory. No longer is she tormented by the ghosts of her childhood, especially the terrible illness that so cruelly seized her brother, Nene, and whose disability brought on a malaise that severely handicapped her parents ability to love and nurture her. Additionally, although she no longer speaks English, she does not remember the suffering that was brought on to her and our family by Castro and his bearded jackals. More surprising is the fact that she no longer gives in to her vanity, as no longer present in her is the agonizing worry she always had  about losing her looks.

Incredibly, she does not even remember my father or having been married. Perhaps the best way God could bring peace to her on this subject was to obliterate the memories of that horrible marriage altogether. I do find it ironic, however. To think of all those years my parents wasted waging war against one another, gone without the sign of any struggle.

These days, seldom does she remember who I am when I visit, but it gives me some joy to see her, although a bittersweet one at best. For now, I see her happy, often smiling at anyone who will pay attention to her. She is no longer tortured by her bad dreams, paranoia and the hidden belief that she is not worthy of love. Perhaps, God does help us find our peace before we leave this world. Mami seems to have found hers. I am glad.

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