Tuesday, October 05, 2010

10 years ago today


This is the 10th anniversary of my mother’s death – an event that transformed my life in ways I’m still discovering.

Mom was living in a retirement home a short distance from my Indianapolis northside condo and seemed to be doing fine. Until the evening of Oct. 5, 2000. She’d gone to bed shortly after dinner and a little later the staff found her dead. She had been increasingly miserable since the death of my father almost three years earlier. She missed him terribly. Then, when she injured herself in a fall and had to be moved from her home of nearly 50 years to a retirement home, she became even more unhappy.

I used to drive the 65 miles to Delphi from Indianapolis every Sunday while she was still living on her own. We’d go out to lunch – usually to a cafeteria in West Lafayette where I was almost always the youngest person in the place – and take a drive. Here’s a photo from one of those drives, a rare occasion when I talked her into riding in my Honda del Sol with the top off rather than in her Buick LeSabre.

As it turned out, the end of her life marked the end of my career with newspapering in Indianapolis. The day after her funeral, I read her will and talked with our attorney and realized I could walk away from my increasingly unpleasant job as a reporter and suburban education writer at The Indianapolis Star. So I did.

Most people don’t get to retire at 55. I would be better off financially today if I hadn’t quit when I did, but I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the decade of personal freedom. And I know I would have hated every day I stayed as a wage slave in what had become a newspaper factory.

But, you know, I’d trade those 10 years of retirement to have my mother back.

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