You’ve probably guessed already that I just read Jennette McCurdy‘s book I’m Glad My Mother Died. And you’re right.
I wanted to send a note to the author as I’m prone to do when a book resonates or otherwise has a profound impact on me, but so far, despite all the options that today’s technology offers, no easy way to send such a note has been found.
Under these circumstances, it seems that posting it here will have to do for now.
Dear Ms. McCurdy,
My imaginary book title at the moment is I Hope My Mom Dies, so of course I was drawn to your book as soon as I read about it in the New York Times.
About a month ago I was driving my 88-year-old mother from a senior living facility in New Mexico to a retirement home in Tennessee.
It was a five-day drive.
The place in Tennessee provides much better care than the place in New Mexico. And my brother just moved to Tennessee, so the idea was to move her to a place that will be closer to him.
I live in Singapore. Moving Mom to Singapore was not an option.
During the road trip, I was thinking that it would be best if my mother died along the way, for reasons far different than those that inspired the title of your book I’m Glad My Mom Died.
For me, if my Mom dies now, any time now, it would end a lot of suffering for her and those near her (emotionally).
Her life quality has diminished over the last three years, leaving her limited to watching television most of the day as her body and memory wither away.
Helping her to the toilet and bathing her during the road trip, it was like moving an emaciated corpse to and fro, a body that has reached its limit with a mind that is only a shadow of what it once was.
One night in a hotel along the way, my wife and I were in a bed across from my mother’s bed. I could hear Mom’s laboured breathing, and lying there, trying to sleep, I found myself hoping for the sound of the death rattle.
It never came.
If we awoke the next morning to find her dead in her bed, I would have been glad.
So yeah, the title of your book resonates with where I am now.
For different reasons for sure, but I can also, in a way, relate to the relationship you had with your mother in your younger years, your mother pursuing her ambitions through you.
In a less dramatic way, my parents hoped I would pursue a business career. My father, a banker, hoped I would follow his path. My mother hoped I would one day be a doctor or lawyer. My grades eliminated any chance of being a doctor, I had no desire to be a lawyer, so I just went with the path of least resistance and studied for a business degree.
The talents I had since grade school for writing and drawing were never discussed in the context of the best educational/career path for my future. My mother, despite being a fan of the arts, discouraged any talk of me (or my friends) ending up in the “artsy” crowd (which I interpreted her meaning as the ‘queer crowd’ at the time. This was also ironic as my mother’s sister is a lesbian, but that is another story).
So while my parents did not manipulate my life anywhere near the way your mother manipulated yours, there was this enduring self-interest that they applied which ignored my own talents, strengths and desires. And with no one to encourage me to pursue them, they fell away, left to be enjoyed as hobbies at most, if at all. I’m sure this is true of many kids who grew up in the 60s.
Reading your book reminded me of these dynamics as I now hope that my mother’s last breath will happen soon, for her own good. In a compassionate way, accepting that expressing such views is not encouraged in today’s society.
Your liberation was realised with your mother’s demise. For me, once I was able to I got out from under my mother’s roof and sought to establish a distance. I eventually moved to Denmark and then to Singapore.
I don’t mean to say that my mother was always a manipulative monster. There are many joyous memories involving her, and she was trying to do the right thing for me, my brother, and her grandchildren.
But now, with her quality of life being so dismal, I can’t escape the feeling that her death would be the most humane thing for her.
So thanks for writing I’m Glad My Mom Died.
For saying those words that most would frown upon, that few have the courage to say.
And for laying out the details of a life that completely clarifies why such an event would make you glad.
There are dozens of other reasons that I found your book to be a great read, but I have probably written too much already.
Thanks again. I am sure I will now join with many others in eagerly awaiting the publication of your next book.