Missing Mama

by Catherine Butterfly

The strange land called the "Brain." Is where my Mama lived the last years of her life. The Mighty Brain does not operate the way folks say it should, and that's a pity. It goes about its job in its blobby, gray white way, processing our fear, our sorrow, our joy in our amygdala, our limbic system, our prefrontal cortex, while our hippocampus handles our memories. Which soon fade away into nothingness. But my mama was a strong woman, she fought like a champ, she wasn't about to leave without a fight. She shared so many great memories with me, when she felt like talking. She joked about the nurses and doctors, the other patients, and boy would we laugh about the things she and her brother Toad did to the children who thought they were better then they were. She would laugh out loud almost hysterically when she would say, "We would jump up out from the cotton field and we would hit them with those rocks and they would fly home, screaming and hollering." Sometimes the glimpse in mama's eyes allowed me to know that she could see it all in front of her. Then mama would quiet down and say Kitty Cat, promise me you won't let my joy be lost. I tried to paint it, write poems about it, and now I am almost finished writing what she shared with me.

When our brain doesn't have a mission control room in a gleaming white tower staffed by five multicolored characters, Joy, Sadness, Disgust, Anger and Fear, it has a beautiful world of love in action, watching the world through our eyes, and dialing up the right feeling for the right moment. Mama soon lost that, slowly but surely. What our brain also doesn't have is a great city laid out at the foot of a tower, with a movie studio and writers where our dreams are made. And angels to allow the writers to see what is truth there. Nor is there a Goofball Island where our playfulness lives and a train of though that is actually a train. No our brain doesn't have any of that. I believe we lose all this when we learn to speak, walk and desire to know. In old age I honestly believe we rediscover these things. Else how could we smile and laugh when strangers come to visit and we don't know who we are. Once an adult, twice a child.

I remember when mama said "my sister Sue came to see me, and her son Roe brought her, and they thought I didn't know who she was. Kitty Cat, I spend all my young life with my sister, how could I forget her. We had the same mother and the same father. We had good times when we was young before we started fighting about things that was none of her business. I know she meant it all for the good, but sometimes people just got to leave well enough alone. They don't know why people do what they do, and it show ain't their business. I suppose these will be my last great memories.

We sat on the side of the bed and she let me put my head in her lap. I knew Kitty Cat, knew she was all I had left, but I didn't tell her that. I knew we both will be going home soon, but I said nothing. I just wanted to love her while I had a chance, and I didn't want to share those moments with no one. Yes, mama was a work of art. She had the biggest heart I'd ever known in a person, now that I was discovering who she really was. My mama and I could have had some wonderful times together. Instead the beauty we could have shared was lost. Looking in mama eyes was like looking into a newborn. When she opened them and looked up at me and caught a glimpse of me sitting there beside her, while she was sleeping, waiting for her to wake up, and her fist memory in the form of a big fat woman calling her mama, had to have struck her funny. "Who is this big old fat lady calling Mama." Yep, she always called me the fat lady and told me I needed to lose weight. Joy was the control of that moment, but soon enough sadness turned the knob, mama started fussing. Calms down only after I offer her something she desired. But Mama heart kept pumping as it should while her brain becomes still and silent. Mama was a work of art and her brain always worked overtime. Mystifying in its complexity and opaque its function.

Slowly forgetting those things no longer needed. The name of all the glitter princesses she called daughters and princes she called sons, That may not be how the brain actually works, but it's not exactly not how either. Mama had a great imagination until near the eye so the nurses thought but I knew her stories was true. Through the realness of it all I knew mama was tired and ready to go home and there was nothing I could do about it. She even had a make believe boy friend for a while. We would laugh at the things she would do to him and say. Our secret. Yes just mama and mines. Yet I had not seen my mama with a man in over forty five years. After Daddy Robert died I didn't expect mama to last must longer, him being her first true love she said, but she did. That old tired brain blocked him out too. Refracted through these hallucinogenic prisms, the real brain makes more sense. Joy got us all here, but sadness kept us.

Mama I miss you so much. No one knows the things we shared, nor the laughter and games we played. Another Christmas almost here and I can hear her clear -- "finish that book" and so I will. "Mama went to hell".

Missing Mama by Catherine Butterfly

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