Prior to my mom’s death a few weeks ago, she had suffered for 10 years from the debilitating effects of Pick’s Disease, a relatively rare form of dementia. At the outset of the disorder, mom began jumbling “yes” and “no.” A year or two later, she was unable to express herself in full sentences. Eventually the disease silenced her voice completely.
We named the baby, Rhonda Maye. Dale wanted to call her Baby Moses, but we told him that was a boy’s name, so he agreed to Rhonda. She has done so well and changes every day. Dale keeps me posted on what she needs, thinks, etc. He doesn’t even want to chew gum, preferring to save it until she grows so they can share it.…
Enclosed is the picture I promised. Dale is holding it while I am writing saying, “We love her; we think she is precious don’t we?” He really listens to what people say about her. If they brag appropriately, he’ll say later, “Wasn’t that a nice woman? I like her....”
The sentiment I expressed toward my new sister probably had more to do with the love my parents modeled for me than any real passion in my young heart. I joked at the funeral that we never found any letters about my brother, Mike, who came along a few years later! But one of my mom’s friends shared a conversation she had with Mom when the disease first began to affect her speech.
Mom’s loving devotion to me was reinforced in another story that I learned in college shortly after I met Dana. Dana had gone to visit her grandmother in Levelland, Texas one weekend and told her all about this new guy she had met. As it turns out, Dana’s grandmother knew me—and used to babysit me when we lived in the same small town. She told Dana that I had been in and out of foster care with my parents for a few years before they adopted me, and that plenty of well-meaning church members counseled my parents: “Don’t adopt the problem child!” Mom’s response was always the same: “We want to adopt someone who needs us.”
1 A tribute to Inez Baucum, http://www.childshome.org/adoptioncelebration.aspx