It was eight years ago today that my mom died suddenly – weeks before her 80th birthday. I remember every single detail of that day.
It was one of those really busy days. We were having an Oscar party that night and then flying out to California the next morning. I was walking out of the supermarket with a full cart of groceries and a bag toppled off the top, spewing its contents all over the parking lot. I picked up the mess, got in the car and was heading home when the phone rang. It was my sister telling me that they were taking my mother to the hospital. She didn’t sound good at all and she hung up. I got home, called out to Tom and Erin to help me put the perishables away, and alerted them to what had happened. Fifteen minutes later, we were all in the car, heading to the hospital when my sister called again. She told me that mom had died on the way to the hospital. And I instantly thought “my unasked questions will never be answered” – questions that have been in my mind since I was a young child – questions about my mother’s story – but I was always too afraid to ask.
The next few weeks were a blur – telling people about my mother’s death, dealing with legalities, travel logistics and funeral arrangements. After the distractions gave way to the final realization that my mother had died – I was going through some things at her apartment. I discovered an old purse containing a bundle of letters, going back to the early 1970’s and I spent the rest of the day, reading them. I was beginning to find some of the answers to the questions that I was always too fearful to ask. I also discovered a part of my family that I never knew I had.
I have gotten to know and love this family over these past eight years. For me it has been a time for discovery and has provided me with somewhat of an explanation of who I am and what drives me to do what I do. For my “new found family” – it has reconnected them to my mother and her legacy. The missing pieces were found and the circles completed on both ends.
I suppose you could say that some inexplicable force has driven me since my mother’s passing. Six years after she died, I journeyed around the world with my daughter, creating a movie. We formed a bond that will last a lifetime, a bond that I had always wished I had with my mother. But I know that in many ways my mother has been a big part of my journey.
As I complete the circle of the making of this film, I’m starting to see my mother’s story play out cinematically in my head – vivid in every detail. It’s an amazing story that is crying out to be told and it’s beginning to write itself.
Oh my, that’s exactly how the idea for Opening Our Eyes got started.