Mom’s running gag

It’s Mother’s Day, and the third anniversary of the day my mom died. How like her to make her final exit at this time of year, ensuring we’d never thoughtlessly skip observing the day, or enjoy it too much without feeling some pangs of loss for her. When I was growing up she joked often about her plans to be “a burden” on her children in her old age. The timing of her death is a kind of extension of that running joke.

Three years ago, when my mom died, I wrote “I will miss her” — not much of a stretch, and of course it’s been true. I had grown accustomed to long phone conversations with her once or twice a week, as I commuted to and from my distant job (at Danger, where an important perk was free cell phone calls, which made the long commute more tolerable).

In April, a few weeks before she died, I wrote my epic seven-part blog series “A boy and his dog,” which I was eager to share with my mom. She was a big fan of my writing and I was a big fan of her praise, which she had a lot of for my still-new blog. Little did I know that she had begun her final decline. She’d been in and out of hospitals and a nursing home for several weeks, but we still thought it was temporary and she’d be returning home before long. Meanwhile I offered to read my story to her over the phone, and was annoyed when she kept putting me off. I didn’t realize that her ability to focus on a story, or even remain on the phone for more than a couple of minutes, was at an end.

My long drive-time conversations were over, and soon the fun started to drain out of going to work at Danger. The most avid member of my writing audience was gone and soon I wasn’t writing quite as much. In spite of her joking, the only way in which my Mom ever was a burden was by being absent.

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