In the late evening hours of June 8, 1964, my mother died in a Connecticut motel room from the complications of a self induced abortion. Her lover assisted her in the abortion attempt and then left her there to die alone when he realized things were not going well. My mom bled to death on the motel floor. They found her body there the next morning. She was 28 years old and the mother of 2.
In 1973 a crime scene photo of my motherís bloody naked body was made public. Without volunteering my mom became the poster child for the pro-choice movement. The image has circulated throughout the country over the years and is still in use today.
I have spent the better part of the last 42 years trying to forget something too horrible for my mind to really grasp and in the process I've forgotten to remember - if that makes any sense.
I have never memorialized my mother. Until a few years ago I could not have told you the date of her death. I don't know that my mother even has a proper headstone. Iíve been to visit her grave only once back when I was around 11 years old. I don't know if this has been a form of denial or if it has more to do with the young age I was when she died but I know Iíve never wanted to face the emotional flood I imagine would take place if I did acknowledge her death in any of these ways.
The date no longer escapes me even if the courage to speak out about it still usually does. So today, this June 8th, 2006, I want to remember.
My mother never fought for women's rights. She was not a great feminist leader. The things she did in life did not make headlines. She was just my mom. She put her life on the line for my sister and me, and for herself Ė and she lost.
It was in death that she made headlines. It was in death that she became an icon. But it is her life I want to remember - before she was an icon to strangers. She was a hero to me. I miss her more today than yesterday and I am so sorry to have forgotten.
I love you Mom.
I will be making a donation to one of the women's organizations in my mother's honor today. I encourage everyone to honor the women they love. Please help keep them safe.
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