Academic journal article The Hastings Center Report

Mimi. (at the Center)

Academic journal article The Hastings Center Report

Mimi. (at the Center)

Article excerpt

My mother--we called her Mimi--loved life and lives of all kinds. She and my father took us children on horse backpack and canoe trips into the wild and into rivers, streams, and ponds to fish and hunt. She welcomed a pet pig into our house along with the dogs. She would stay up whole nights helping canine mothers bring puppies into the world. She hated my forays onto football fields and ice hockey rinks, but she let me go, as she let me go out into the world to find myself and other women (Vivian, my wife, and five wonderful daughters).

When her children left home, Mimi began a long career as a volunteer at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. She loved, respected, and cared for staff, patients, and families alike. She became an institution within an institution. That I have become a philosopher of organic life and direct a Humans and Nature Program is particularly apt, given her influence on me. I am Mimi's son.

This year, my mother died at age 92 after a long battle with Alzheimer's disease.

Mimi and I loved each other very much. Perhaps ironically, over these past few years we have had the opportunity most directly to express this love. Roles reversed, I became responsible for overseeing her care. Our family home is on Illinois "Windblown Hill" farmland. We set Mimi up in a downstairs bedroom with a window overlooking bird feeders. Mimi's powers of memory and speech progressively abandoned her, but she miraculously remained her self, intact and undaunted, a central and key player in her own good care by virtue of the genuine love and loyalty she naturally commanded. …

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