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Saturday, 9 May 2009

A Mother's Day Blessing

A Mother By Another Name....

By Liliane Clever
Junto Staff Writer
When I was around 15 years old, I read a short story by Daphne Du Maurier in which one of the characters reminded me of my mom.

The character's name was 'Midge.' Jokingly, I started calling my mom by that name. My sister and father immediately followed. It was all done in a loving and fun way.

Actually, a first, I meant to tease her. She hated it. But somehow the nickname stuck, and my mom has been Midge ever since. And it has been become a loving name. To us, Midge is as dear a name as Maman, or Mom, or Mother can be.

Midge lives in a small town in the Loire Valley, where she retired years ago. Now 87 years old, she has been diagnosed with 'maladie de la memoire.'

'Maladie de la memoire' is not Alzheimer's per se, but the symptoms are much the same: Midge does not remember anybody's name. She knows and recognizes people, but names have become a complete mystery.

Living away from France and not in proximity to Midge, I was unaware of this fact for a while. Still, I call my mom several times a week. Our telephone conversations are short as not much new happens to her anymore, and she often has trouble expressing herself.

One day, I realized that she never says 'Annick,' my sister's name, when talking about her. She always says 'ma fille' instead. I started to wonder. I asked her point blank what my name was. She answered that I was 'la plus jeune.' It was quite a shock.

I had never imagined that my mom could forget my given name. The very name that she and my father had carefully picked when I was born.

Then, it occurred to me that her memory lapse might just be poetic justice. After all, we imposed the name Midge on her years ago. A name that she was not particularly fond of at the time.

But I will gladly be 'la plus jeune' instead of Liliane to my mom as long as she knows in her heart and her mind who I am.