Grace Notes – Thinking about my mom

Last week, my mom, who will turn 90 in August, went into a home, as they say.

She has dementia and is still recovering from her second broken hip.

A few years ago, she had breast cancer and had a mastectomy.

She’s been wheelchair bound for quite a while.

Mom doesn’t know me anymore, but sometimes I think she never really did.

I’m the oldest of four kids — she had us all within a span of five years. My brother and I are only 13 months apart.

So, for the first five years of my life, my mom was either pregnant or caring for a newborn and/or a toddler or two.

A podcast therapist I used to listen to would say my mom and I never formed an attachment.

That pretty much says it all about me and my mom.

In my family, I was the “handful.” I was a drama queen, and I don’t think my mom ever knew what to do with me.

I’m sure I tired her out. I can be quite exhausting.

But when we were little, she was fun. Our house was the one that the kids in the neighborhood always came to, and I remember her doing cartwheels in the yard.

We had a backyard carnival once, to raise money for muscular dystrophy (I think?), and she always had a pitcher of Kool-Aid in the fridge and a box of graham crackers, enough for whomever was there playing at our house.

I left home at 19 to join the Air Force and ended up 3,000 miles away from home in California; first, with the Air Force in northern Maine, and for the past 32 years here in Florida.

My husband and I did live in California in between that time for about 10 years until we came to Florida in 1991.

Before we came to Florida, my mom and dad moved to a remote area of Mexico, a beautiful place but not a simple trip for a visit from Florida.

So, for the past 32 years, I’ve only seen my mom and dad a few times face to face.

I have regrets. Lord, have mercy, I have regrets.

For the past few months, Mom has been in a hospital in Yuma, Arizona.

When she broke her hip, my dad had to find someone to help him get her into his vehicle and then he drove I don’t know how many hours to get her to the hospital in Yuma.

Amazingly, she never complained of pain.

Dad has stayed with her all this time, with a few trips home to Mexico to check on things at the house.

Now Mom’s in a home near my sister’s house in California.

Dad is relieved, and so very tired. And he’s so little, but his silver hair is still always perfectly coiffed.

I don’t know where I’m going with all this. I’m just telling my story.

I’ve called my mom and dad more in the past three months than I have in the past 32 years, and my mom sounds so happy.

We talk about what she’s having for lunch and I tell her that I love her and she says, “I love you, too.”

I remember one time I was visiting my sister in California and Mom and Dad were there. We went to Von’s (grocery store), and we were in the aisle by the frozen peas and I said to her, “Mom, I’m SO sorry. For everything I ever did.”

She laughed. She said, “I know.”

Remembering that makes me smile.

Maybe she did know me.

Nancy Kennedy can be reached at 352-564-2927 or by email at


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