Yesterday was Mother's Day, and dozens of friends posted photos of their mothers on Facebook, professing their love and gratitude for the happy memories they have with their mothers. In these days of isolation, parenting has become more complicated, and to all those mothers and fathers who are successfully adjusting to the changes in their parenting responsibilities, you have my respect. Perhaps in 20 years, those kids will realize how lucky they were to have good parents who loved them. It took me about 30 years to figure that out. Now that both my parents are gone, I regret that it took me so long. Luckily, we still have one remaining parent alive in our family, Shauna Leigh's mom, "ET", Ethel Taylor.
Yesterday evening, at the beginning of Ethel "ET" Goodman Taylor's MARTINI MUSIC show, my wife Shauna read a poem she wrote to pay tribute to her remarkable 96 year-old mom. I doubt there are many people Ethel's age hosting a weekly radio show, and though I never before knew much about that genre of music, I have come to love it because ET has exposed me to some of the best music that era had to offer. I can now point out the differences between many big band orchestras, recognize artists I'd never heard of before her show, and come to appreciate some of the greatest songwriters ever. In so many ways, ET is a living testimonial to a life well lived. Other than my father, who was sharp and funny, well into his late nineties, I know of few nonagenarians who have retained their wit, charm, and intelligence as successfully as has ET. She has an active mind, she is inquisitive, funny, and she always keeps me on my toes. While she worries that she is becoming more forgetful (and who isn't these days) I find that, because she has an active mind, she has retained much of the mental capacity that people far younger than she have lost. Use it or lose it, right?
As I have mentioned before in this report, my mom was a great lady as well, but for the last 5 years of her life, she suffered from Lewy Body Dementia. It took a while after she passed on for me to remember the good times. Lewy Body is a particularly onerous and challenging form of dementia, because not only is it hard to diagnose, but the sufferer comes and goes mentally. Unlike Alzheimer's, which is a gradual but constant decline, Lewy Body renders its victims completely unresponsive one day, only to return them to their "normal" selves the next. As a caregiver, one never knows what to expect, and it was emotionally devastating.
I've been whining a lot in this report about the swift passage of time and, in fact, I have become exponentially more nostalgic in the past year. Perhaps we all have. There is a photo Shauna took of me with my mom back in the early 90's. In it, we're standing arm in arm on the front porch of the Oppenheimer beach house on Thunder Bay in Fort Erie, Ontario. I remember the day as if it were yesterday. Shauna and I had just married, and it was a much different world. I have a million fond memories of growing up in that old beach house, but the foundation of that happiness was the family history it embodied. The house belonged to my maternal grandfather and was in our family for well over 70 years. As I reminisce in my song, "Grampy's House" I have fond memories of "Mom and Dad and barbecues, the smell of fresh cut grass, just another day on Thunder Bay, I wish that it could last..."
If anything good has come of this pandemic, it is that I have become more thankful for all that I have been given. I'm thankful to have found the love of my life, my best friend, and my soul mate, Shauna Leigh. We had similar upbringings. I'm grateful for the wonderful life and all the love of my mom and dad. Both were well into their 90's when they died, and if I learned one thing from their existence, it is that a life well lived, surrounded by family, is worth more than all the money in the world. As I mentioned earlier, I am guilty of having taken that good fortune for granted, but the gratitude is rekindled every time I see that photograph Shauna captured of Mom and me at the beach house. For all of my readers who have lost their mothers, I join you in mourning your losses. The best thing you can do to honour their memory is to pass on their love to someone else. A belated Happy Mother's Day to all!
Written by Jamie Oppenheimer ©2021 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED