haibun
A Quarterly Journal of Contemporary English Language Haibun
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March 2008, vol 4 no 1

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Betty Kaplan

 

Her Name was Flora

It was the time when mental illness was not understood and considered a shame.

My mother was hospitalized with what I found out very much later was postpartum depression.

I remember, as a little child, standing outside this very strange building and looking up at the windows.

The neighborhood children would taunt me, calling out “your mother is crazy”.

I would answer “no, she is dead”.

My older sister kept track of her illness. She would visit her and watch over her.

When I was a teenager, she sent me to visit. I walked into a huge room with a lot of beds.

The woman sitting there was a stranger to me and I felt no connection.

After nearly 20 years, Ida was finally able to get our mother’s release and bring her to her home. When we would visit, I would feel the same. Who was this beautiful person?

Now, when there is no one alive that I can talk to about this, there are so many questions that I think about. How did she act when this happened?  What was she like?  What was so terrible that she had to be put in a hospital to live there for so many years.

   a book
   on the night table
   one page turned down