Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The World According To Dee




Mother’s Day is over five months away, so the following story is not meant to serve as any kind of flowery tribute befitting that day we set aside to keep FTD and chocolate companies in business. Instead, it is simply a long overdue introduction for whoever reads my blog to the most amazing person I have ever known. My mother.

Dolores Mae Peroli Bryan, born February 21, 1927. Child of the depression. Married Charles Herald Bryan on February 12, 1949, and remained his devoted wife until his death in 1997. Mother of four more-or-less normal children. Everyone knows her as Dee.

I, of course, know her simply as Mom.

Dee is now 81 years old. At that age she is not the person, either physically or mentally, that she once was – who is – but even at this age she does things that astound. I will get to that shortly. I am her youngest child, and as such share what I believe to be a unique bond; much of which was forged when I was a child, but transcends just that closeness. We are kindred souls with very similar views on politics, sports and how to interact with the world in general. Virtually all that I am as a person can be directly traced to her, and that is not an exaggeration.

In 1974 Dee was diagnosed with breast cancer and had to have a radical mastectomy. In those days that meant not only removal of her breast, but most of the muscles in her upper right arm. The night before the surgery, people came over to visit with her, and I still remember how everyone arrived concerned for her welfare, but left feeling energized by her spirit. To her, it was just one of those things that sometimes happens, and you just face it head on, deal with it, and move on. What I am trying to say is that the word ‘pity’ is not part of her vocabulary.

Her politics are liberal, she thinks LeBron James is a ‘nice young man,’ thinks Romeo Crennel is cluelessly over his head as coach of the Browns, believes that family is the most important asset that a person can have, and you always balance your checkbook to the penny. Not surprisingly, I share all those views.

Dee is perpetual motion. It infuriates us to this day how she simply refuses to sit still, that we fear she will take a fall or simply wear herself out. And even when she is sitting in her chair watching her Cleveland Cavaliers or Indians, she crochets. Ravenously. Like, afghans-for-the-world levels. And while this may not seem unusual, it is worth noting that due to a rough patch of circulatory problems, she has two fingers & half a thumb missing on her right hand and one finger on her left hand.

How much does she crochet? Well, each of us kids have at least five of her afghans, all her relatives, most every neighbor on the street, half the city, and over 300 sick kids in local hospitals. She has donated over 300 afghans to Project Linus, which is a program to basically give sick kids a blanket. Even with about a third of her hand missing, she cranks out about an afghan a week. There are hundreds of children in the greater Akron area with a Dee Bryan-original afghan.

These days, Dee is forgetful and often repeats herself. She often asks which day it is. She will tell you a story at least a dozen times, and in the spirit of quid pro quo, it is best to repeat stories to her so that she will remember them. The onset of dementia perhaps? Nah. She’s just old. And what do I do when she repeats herself? I give her the same patience she always gave me when I was ripping through parts of my life; times where I knew I was causing her to lose sleep fretting over my welfare. I smile and nod, laugh at the appropriate time, and show her the respect she has earned. Not that she has demanded, but earned. Hers has been a life well lived, and one that anyone through emulation would dramatically improve their own life. She is the embodiment of attraction rather than promotion – never boastful, just an example of grace, courage and dignity.

One day in the future – one I hope is still well off – there will be a funeral. It will be an event. Hundreds will be there, because I am not sure she totally realizes it, but the scope of her positive impact to others is vast. And on that day the world will become a far crueler, selfish place with her no longer occupying it. There is no doubt she will be in heaven, as she has lived her life as an angel within our midst.

3 comments:

Gary V. said...

Wow Jer that was touching.
Having met your parents on several occasions, I have somewhat of a personal insight on what you wrote.
Your Mom is wonderful lady.
Very well written.

Tony said...

Very nice, Uncle, very nice indeed. Grandma is an amazing person.

Kimberley said...

Jerry,
I agree with Gary...WOW!
~ Yes, I am very glad you shared this with me, met you, and read this AT HOME!!! I cry easily, especially about parents, family and those we love.
~ Kimberley