Fifteen years ago yesterday, on August 9, 2002, my mother, Sylvia McNair, died in the very early hours of the morning. This photo is one that my dear friend the novelist Eric Charles May had enlarged and framed for me after that loss. We are in the Hilton Hotel, drinking with our buddies after a Columbia College Chicago Fiction Writing Department Story Week event. The picture must have been taken in 2000. She was not yet sick (or rather, that is what we believed at the time.)
I never thought I looked like my mother. I thought I look like my dad. I do. But clearly, evidently, proof right here, I look like my mother as well.
I have given her my first finished, at the time not yet published, short story post MFA to read (later placed as the incendiary first story of my collection, The Temple of Air.) We are talking about stories in The New Yorker for some reason. She says: “New Yorker stories are slice of life stories. Your stories are like New Yorker stories.” Well, well. I’ll take that! She goes on: “I never really liked New Yorker stories.” Oh.
Another time we are working on a travel piece together. It is about a trip we took on a river boat along the St. Lawrence River. “You write the opening. You are a better writer than I am.”
That last day before her last night, she had been in a sort of sleeping coma for part of a week. She woke up and I sat close to her on the hospital bed we had rented for her living room so she could look out her wide French doors over her plant-filled balcony to the tall, tall trees in the courtyard of her building. She was tired, exhausted from trying to stay alive when it was hard to breathe, when she could no longer stand, when food would not stay down. She was ready for whatever would come next. “I’m proud of you,” she said. “Me, too,” I said. “Me too, you too.”
13 Replies to “TBT: Mom Memories”
Evocative and sad. Nice.
On Thu, Aug 10, 2017 at 11:16 AM, Patricia Ann McNair wrote:
> Patricia Ann McNair posted: ” Fifteen years ago yesterday, on August 9, > 2002, my mother, Sylvia McNair, died in the very early hours of the > morning. This photo is one that my dear friend the novelist Eric Charles > May had enlarged and framed for me after that loss. We are in the Hilt” >
We’re lucky to have some special memories, aren’t we?
I appreciate the photo with your mother…really lovely of you both. The loss of mothers goes deep and hard, no matter what was said or left unsaid. Those last words shared–a lifelong treasure.
Thank you so much, Cynthia!
Perfect. Unflinching honesty. xo
Thank you, dear Kathleen.
Remembering your mom fondly. I’m glad you two were able to have that last moment. She was fond of french doors ,wasn’t she? I recall them leading out to a Florida room in your old house. Thanks for the memories ~gayle
Dear Gayle, thank you so much for reading this, and for your comment. I miss you!
Yes the proof is definitely there, undeniably. Great photo and wonderful memories. As that generation passes on and leaves the torch to us, we are left with such a mixture of messages. Hope, worry, encouragement, fear, and love both conditional and unconditional all at the same time. Loved this piece and can’t get it out of my mind. Thanks for this. Just lovely.
Thank you, David! I miss you and hope you are well. Hello to Mrs., too. And I apologize; I think I owe you an email. xo
The Mrs. says hello back. I miss you as well. Doing well, trying to work less. Greetings to the Mr., and look forward to more writerly moments