I was driving in my car, listening to NPR the other day, when a story came on that had me in tears. It was an interview with Olympia Dukakis who talked about caring for her mother when she had Alzheimer’s. She said that her mother became preoccupied with issues that had been unresolved throughout her life. Issues that she had not been able to focus on before in all of the chaos that is daily living.
Dukakis said, “I almost had the feeling that she lived as long as she needed to … maybe ‘resolve’ is too happy a word, but … there was some kind of exchange that was happening.”
During this time, her mother did not recognize her daughter, and then one day, “She said ‘Oh, Olympia, I’ve been looking everywhere for you.’ I couldn’t believe it. This was after almost two years of not knowing me at all.”
In my own strange kind of a way, I related to this story. All of my life, I wanted to have children. But I spent so many years struggling with addiction and depression. When I was actively alcoholic, I wasn’t the most enlightened person, but I knew I couldn’t have children until I stopped drinking. I did stop, but then it was years trudging through meetings and therapy to get myself to a place where I could trust myself to take care of someone else.
It was as if I was struggling with my inner life too. When my son was born, I felt just like Olympia Dukakis’ mother. “Lil guy, I have been looking for you for such a long, long time. There you are!”