To the woman in the booth behind us--I apologize for my mother. She isn't aware she is staring at you "watching you eat." All she isaware of is the activity around her, and the music of voices raised inconversation. All she is doing is looking around her with the wonder of achild trying to see everything, but without the ability any longer to knowthat she might offend. I will not deny her the joy she finds in going todinner, although all she will remember is the joy but not what caused it.
To the kids on the sidewalk behind us--I apologize for my mother. She shuffles rather than walks. We go slowly, with her trustinglyholding my hand as I did hers when I was a child and these roles werereversed. She can't hurry up. Pushing her or calling her names cannotmake her walk any faster. Her body and her mind are fragile now andneither will be getting any better. So walk around us quietly, and hope itwill never be you and your mother walking slowly together on the sidewalk.
To the man in the checkout line--I apologize for my mother. She is living in a world of 70 years ago. She meant no offense andintended a compliment when she called you a fine-looking Negro. Your harshwords will make no difference to her. She can't remember them, and all shewill remember is hurting because someone yelled at her.
To Mom's friends--I apologize for my mother. She doesn't remember the you of today. When she sees you when we areout, you are a stranger. She will greet you with the inborn graciousnessshe has always possessed but she doesn't know you. The you of yesterday,however, is a source of joy to her as she talks about the things you didtogether "just last week."
To my cousins--I apologize for my mother. As her nieces and nephews she has always loved you all dearly. Butshe doesn't know you now. Most of the time she doesn't know that I am herdaughter. A little more of her slips away every day. But as she looks atthe family photo albums the love she feels for you has not dimmed.
To my husband--I apologize for my mother. She has always loved you as a son. I see the pain you feel watchingher fade further and further away from us every day. I have watched youbuild a place for her in our home without a word of thanks from her or evenacknowledgement of your accomplishments. I couldn't do this without you.Your support and love for both of us keeps me going.