In kindergarten, after confiding to her about my daily horrors, Mom showed up one day during recess and made a beeline for Jenny Willack, sticking a long finger in the blond girl’s face. “You l-l-leave my D-D-Danny alone!” Halfway across the monkey bars, Jenny began bawling and let herself drop to the wood chips.
Later that night, I woke up to find Mom sitting at the foot of my bed, singing without a stutter. Her voice sounded beautiful, so strong blaming God for stealing our voices.
After a few more years of speech therapy, something clicked. My stutter disappeared, something I later learned was fairly common.
Mom said I was so lucky.
I never again woke up to find her sitting on my bed.
Like my dad, I became a lawyer. I married another one, and we had two boys, neither of whom stuttered. We visited my parents every Christmas. Mom flinched whenever one of the boys repeated a sound. My younger son often had nightmares about her, the faces she made trying to tell him things.
After my dad’s funeral, she stopped answering the phone. She never learned to e-mail. Her letters often required two stamps.
A few weeks ago, Mom cracked her head on a coffee table, never waking up from the coma. I kept the eulogy brief, mentioning at the end how beautifully she sang.