"The label you give yourself cannot impact external forces that are not motivated by your own psychology or influenced by a third party's pre-existing consciousness of you. We are all presented with reasons to struggle which come from completely external forces; to pretend that one is not struggling is either arrogance or an admission of defeat. To admit that one is struggling is a sign and a source of strength." - Evan A. Baker

Saturday, December 19, 2009

What Did You Always Want to Ask?

Since returning from Burning Man last September and having an epiphany there, I have been slowly putting together thoughts and notes and pages for myself regarding the book I am planning on writing about my mother.

One of the first things I want to do is interview my Dad about their 28 year marriage. My mother suffered her first nervous breakdown, requiring an extended stay at a mental institution when they had been married for only 8 years. He stayed with her, broken and confused, for the next 20 years.

Here's a few questions I have come up with:

What year did you meet Mom?

Where were you both living?

How did you meet Mom?

What did she look like? Was she out of your league?

What was the courtship like?

What traits attracted you to her? Do you see any of those in your children?

When and Why did you decide to take your relationship from dating to living together?

When did you move in together?

What was living together like?

When/How did you decide that she was the one?

How did you propose to her?

How was Mom after she found out she was pregnant with [older brother]? with me? with [younger sister]? with the fourth baby?

When did you start thinking she was acting strange?

When did your relationship with her and our grandparents become strained? How did that affect your relationship with them?

What was the hardest year in your marriage?

What were your worst fears?

When I was about 14 years old, I snooped in my Dad's briefcase because the thing must've weighed 35 pounds and I was pretty sure he was carrying lead in there. I found papers that he had kept in there from when I was about 7 or 8. What looked like papers drawn up for divorce, with my dad fighting for full custody.

Flash forward 7 more years and I admit to Dad, at a McDonald's of all places, that I had found that. I ask him why he never filed them.

My dad looked at me. "Because I knew she would one day get better, and go back to being the woman I married."

My mother never did get better. She now lives in a 24 hour care facility in Panorama City.

What else should I ask my dad? He is completely willing to answer anything. Please help.


  1. What do you think your lives would be like now if she hadn't had a nervous break down?

    What, if anything, do you wish you'd done differently?

    If you'd left her when you'd drawn those divorce papers up, where do you think you'd be now?

    My last question is more of a statement, because I know and love you and your dad: how did you stay such a loving, amazing man?

    I can't wait to read your book.

  2. I think I'd start with (if you haven't already), "Will you tell me if these questions make you too sad?"

    Your father is such an incredible man. Maybe he even still believes that one day your mother will get better. Sometimes it's hard for people to revisit the past, so do be gentle with him, my dear Lira :)


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