When you lose a parent, it seems odd that the rest of the world goes on, as if nothing has changed. For me, everything has changed. So I beg your indulgence for a moment, while I share part of what I wrote:
Emily, or Emma, grew into a beautiful young woman who dropped out of high school as they all did, to work. She also took up smoking, and bought as many fashionable pieces of clothing as she could afford, to show off her slender good looks, as well as make up for having worn hand-me-downs as a young child. She dated other men, but lost her heart to a funny-talking stranger from Scotland. He was a carpenter who had been invited by her oldest sister's husband to "come and meet my wife's sisters...she has 4 of them!" He was tall, dark, and had blue-gray eyes that Busia called "fish-eyes". But he made her laugh, and when they got out onto the dance floor, she felt like Ginger Rogers to his Fred Astaire. So she married John, convinced that she had found the one man who would give her the love she had been missing since her father died when she was a young teenager.
Unfortunately John had a hard life back in Glasgow, growing up with a father who ruled his family with threats of violence and fear. Since John never hit his wife, and worked every day to support her and their two children, he thought he was doing well by her. He was oblivious as to what else she wanted from him. Love, affection, gentleness, understanding...all of these were foreign concepts to a "man's man" like him. Emily doted on her two children, spending hours teaching them to read, encouraging them to pursue the education she had been denied by circumstances. Eventually both she and John got their GEDs, and he also spent 30 years getting an Associates degree. But they fought almost constantly. The only time they were not arguing was when they were dancing, when by traditional rules, she had to let John lead.
Emily poured her heart and soul into her children. She was my biggest cheerleader, always making me feel like the sun didn't rise for her until I was awake in the morning. Whatever I did was wonderful just because I did it. She bragged about me to her family, but never sought out friends because she said she didn't need them...she had family. But to fulfill her desire for "a perfect love with a good man" she devoured romance novels by the bagful, trading them with her sisters and the local libraries.
So years later, when I finally became a published author of romance novels, I excitedly handed her my first paperback with a hand-written inscription of love to my Mom who had taught me to love reading. She not only wasn't able to read by that time, she didn't really understand that I had written the book. She had already lost so many parts of herself by then that my triumph fell flat. Whereas my Mom would have stood on the top of the Sears tower and yelled in all directions, "My daughter is a published author! My daughter is better than yours!"...this tiny frail woman hid the book in a drawer, convinced by the paranoid stage of dementia that she was in that people were sneaking into her apartment and stealing from her. She never understood that if I even suspected that, I would have removed her instantly from that situation. As she protected and cared for me when I was vulnerable, so did I do the same to repay the monumental debt I owed to her.
Towards the end of her life, she was confused and didn't even remember her family, despite my having organized her endless boxes of pictures into a semblance of chronological order. She didn't remember having been married for 53 years to my father. She didn't even remember that she had children. I would smile gently and show her pictures of her kids and her grandkids, then I would cry all of the way home.
To date, I haven't made any mark for myself in the publishing world because there are just so many authors publishing so many books these days, that I'm only one in a crowd. The only person who would have found my every word to be magical, is gone. But if by some wild stroke of luck I ever become a famous author earning advances and royalties beyond my wildest dreams now, I know for a fact that I would trade that all in for one more day to spend with the Mom who doted on me.