Traverse City Record-Eagle

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October 8, 2012

Terry Wooten: Anniversary of mom's death approaching

My mother passed away a year ago this Oct. 10. I don't claim to be a mystic, but I do have a big imagination. When a person I know dies, I often feel like I can sense their personality around for a while. It wasn't like that with mom. Alzheimer's disease had ravaged her mind so much, she was gone. I couldn't feel anything.

It took a few months for our spirits to repair themselves. Now her memory is with me again every day in all phases of life. I'd like to dedicate this column on art and testing to her.

Minds are unfathomable organs. The way we think, feel, remember and change is as various as our faces. Art and consciousness grew up together. Without art life is a small box to fill in.

On the cover of my book, "The Abstracts of Romance and the Thrill of Being" published in 1997, we used a photo of my mother from 1945. She's seventeen and posing on the bridge over the Middle Branch River in our hometown of Marion.

I gave mom a copy of the book. I don't think she read it for a few weeks. She was too busy carrying it around showing the cover to friends. Mom didn't understand a lot of my early poems, but she was proud of them.

Near the end as Alzheimer's was taking its toll, my wife and I would drive down to Mount Pleasant and spend an afternoon with her just driving around or shopping. One time she stopped some people in a Merchandise Mart and introduced me to them as her son the poet. We talked for a while and then parted.

"How do you know those people?" I asked her.

"I don't," she answered.

Two years later she forgot who I was. It's a good thing there isn't a standardized test score at the end of life.

Leona Waffle Clark

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