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  • by Carolyn Lackey

It Finally Happened


I'd been dreading it. It finally happened today. Meems didn't know my name.

I ran by for a quick visit after church. The kitchen of the new home smelled wonderful. My little mother was at the lunch table pensively chewing on a bite of food. Seeing her enjoying Sunday lunch at an actual kitchen table in an actual roast-and-gravy-perfumed kitchen made my heart so happy.

I leaned down and gave her a big side hug.

"Hey! How're you doing, Mom!?"

"not good."

"What do you mean 'not good?' Your lunch sure looks good to me!"

"my daughter has been out of town, and i don't know when she's coming back."

Thinking that she hadn't gotten a good look at my face, I knelt down beside her.

"Do you know who I am? Do you remember me?"

"katie?"

I gently put my hands on her cheeks and turned her empty gaze towards me. I swallowed the lump in my throat and continued on as if we were playing some fun guessing game.

"No! Guess again!"

"kathy?"

My eyes began to fill with tears. There was no spark of recognition. No sweet, welcoming smile. The caregiver asked me what name Meems had called me. If she wasn't such a new friend, she would have recognized the "verge of tears" voice that explained that "Kathy" was my sister. The brief response had to suffice. There is no way that I could have further explained that Kathy is already in heaven.

"I'm Carolyn, Mom. I'm your daughter. I haven't been out of town. I've been right here all along."

I needed to make a quick exit. I told Mom that I'd come see her again this afternoon if she would call me Carolyn. I did my best to say it with a smile and a tease.

"Mom, can you say 'Carolyn?'

She stared blankly ahead silent for a few seconds. I held my breath.

"Care..olyn."

I'll take it any way I can get it.

On the way home, I thought about how diligently I worked with each baby boy coaxing each one to utter the word I most longed to hear - "Mama." All three are taller than me, and I still love hearing them say in their now deep, grown man voices - "Mom."

Meems is the one who taught me how to say my own name. She tried really hard to teach my baby sister, Kathy, how to pronounce my name. It wasn't "Cure-lin" it was "Care-Oh-Lyn."

I've come full circle. Teaching my boys to say "Mama" was so thrilling. Coaxing the woman who named me to say my name is a whole different ball game.

I sat in the car in front of Mom's place and texted Alan.

This afternoon, I'm going to go for another visit. Goals: Hug pats and sweet smiles.

#cantremembermyname #Sundaylunch #cantrecognizeme

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