It was easy to remember who wrote all these words, but it's not the me of today. Twenty-six years later, the person sitting in Bellingham, composing on her laptop, bears very little resemblance to the 43-year-old young person who wrote this:
Mama and I finally had a fight. It cleared the air but was very traumatic to me. More than to her, I think. She finally let me take her blood sugar, and it was amazingly good. It confused me, because I was so sure it would be terrible. We started to argue, I don't know now just what the trigger was, but I let her know my visit was awful and I wouldn't be coming back at Christmas.
I went into the bathroom to cry and when I came out she insisted that we "have a talk." The talk went on for at least an hour, maybe two, with me telling her all that I had been holding in since my arrival, all the resentments about her drinking, her friends, her lifestyle. Soon it became clear to me that nothing would make me happy but to have her (1) stop drinking completely, (2) eat only the best foods for her, (3) walk at least a mile a day, and (4) renounce her affection for her other children and see me as the best, most accomplished and devoted.In 1985, I had not discovered skydiving. That wouldn't happen for another six years. My mother was still alive and had not yet gone through all the pain and suffering that awaited her. She died in 1993. My son Chris was still alive and healthy, and I had not yet met my life partner. I spent almost thirty years working for the same organization, and when I had my birthday in 1985, I had only been working there for six years. So many days, weeks, months, and years have flown by.
It is interesting to realize that time passes and changes are invisible from day to day. Each day I am a little older, a little different than the day before, but until I look back, until something like these journals gives me a glimpse into the past, I don't have any way to measure the imperceptible change. I remember illnesses and injuries, births and deaths, but the day-to-day life I live is also flowing by, the passage of time like a deep gentle river. The little soul perched on a leaf that makes its way along the river doesn't notice the changes on the river's bank. All it sees is the river and its vessel, the leaf.
When I wrote those words in 1985, I wanted my mother never to leave me. I knew that she would and was hoping that if she did what I wanted, she wouldn't die. She wasn't even as old as I am today. But you only have one mother, and I guess it's normal to try to keep that person from changing. We all know this is impossible, but it doesn't keep us from trying. It's the same reason that we dye our hair, get facelifts, exercise obsessively and diet: to stave off the inevitable passage of time.
Once in awhile, I will wonder about these things. I might catch an image of myself in a passing window and wonder when I got old. My hair is completely white now, the wrinkles on my face a permanent part of me, not a visitor that has any intention of leaving. I don't really mind, I feel fortunate to still have a vessel that works well. I know that will change, too, but for now I am happy to see that the old Leaf has most of its parts and is still on top of the water.