Monday, March 17, 2008

Melancholy

My mother's been ill.. it's nothing new. I pretend to be 47, (I'm a lot older.. I am sometimes astounded at just how old I am) and my mother was 27 when I was born.

At best (if I were 47), she'd be 74—not a spring chicken by any definition—but as I said, I 'm older than 47.

She is prey to age, and all that entails; she quit smoking 20 odd years ago—after a major heart attack—but the years of smoking took their toll, and she's never fully recovered from the damage of the heart attack or the smoking.

Her breathing is poor, and her heart, was damaged back in those pre-war, pre-antibiotic days of her youth, long before she ever smoked.

She is unhappy in the hospital, and wants to go home.

I heard that, and wonder, where is home?

As a child, when my mother spoke of home, she never meant where we lived. Home was never where she lived, home was not her husband and family, or her bed or kitchen, in the apartment. Home wasn't New York--where she has lived some 60 years. Home was Ireland.

I remember how startled I was when, as a family, we went to Ireland.

I have wonderful rich memories. I love visiting Ireland, but I didn't feel at home there. Ireland was a wonderful place, but it wasn't home.

Home for me was my parents, and siblings, the apartment we lived in, my friends, my school. Home for me was New York.

Tonight, New York's Channel 13 (our PBS station) had a short film, HOME. Written and narrated by an Irish immigrant, it explored the idea of home—and the New York experience.
I realize how lucky I am to be at home. To feel at home in my city, in my apartment, in myself.

The cliché is that Home is where the heart is.

I think my mother is heart broken-- in ways beyond physically--and home, too, is a fractured place. And that, more than anything else I can say, is the saddest thing.

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