I wrote recently about having two mothers, one who gave birth to me, and one who raised me. Mom, who adopted me at the age of two, passed away Christmas day 1999. My birth mother, Helen, remains alive in Natchez, Mississippi, along with six of my seven siblings by birth (one sister is in New Jersey).
I learned in an email this morning from one of my sisters that our mother is in the hospital with an infection and will be going into a nursing home from there. While she’s had the support of six very grown children there (I’m the only non-grandparent, though I am a great-uncle many times over) , it’s become too difficult for them to keep her at home.
As much of an absence of emotional connection as I’ve had with my birth mother since being told I was adopted at seventeen, this still comes as a sad day. My other three parents were spared what can be an okay experience, or can be a nightmare of fear, frustration and loneliness. My birth father, a stranger I never met, died from a heart attack when I was in my 20s. Mom died in 1999, and Dad died just a year and a half ago, from pneumonia, “the old person’s friend.” He’d had worsening Alzheimer’s and under those circumstances a fairly quick death is a blessing.
My mother will not lack for company, that I’m sure of. Her children, despite her history of having given six of us up, were devoted to her. My two brothers lived on the same street until recently, and my sisters there are constantly at her house. There is some comfort in knowing she will not be housed in a nursing home and forgotten, but I still wish she could have finished out her days at home, as we all hope we can.