My mother died six weeks ago. A mother’s death isn’t uncommon. It is an event experienced — with the relatively predictable lifespans from today’s healthcare — by most humans. This population now includes eighty percent of my siblings.
In my first Living Amongst Humans piece, “Boundary Issues” written in 2011, I spoke of my life being the end of an unbroken chain of generations lasting nearly four billion years. It was remarkable that I — childless — would be the one to break that sequence, many millions of ancestors long. Living Amongst Humans was to be the tale of the last link in the chain.
With my mother’s death, I am left to consider how the connection to the generation preceding me has changed. She lives on in my genes, surely, but more significantly in my mind. Studies show the surprisingly little influence parental nurture has on a child’s personality. I won’t dispute that because it is irrelevant to how my mother shaped my life. She gave me tools, and the guidance to use them, to carve a lifetime of meaning.