Of course, I went back again to that house on Woodscape Drive, in Salem, Oregon. I couldn’t let my mother die alone in a nursing home, so I packed up my apartment on Polk Street, in San Francisco, and headed home.
But we can never really go home again, can we? And I had never felt less at home anywhere in the world then I did in Salem, Oregon.
I would often make the drive out River Road, past the orchards and strawberry fields, and when I crossed the bridge over the Willamette River, and dropped into Independence, I could literally feel my lungs expand and I could breath again. Our farm on 99W was still beautiful then, and I would sit outside the gates for a little while, then drive back again.
I spent eighteen months there, working and caring for my dying mother. I stayed as long as I could stand it, then I moved her back to California with me, where she died at Stanford University Hospital, at 59 years old.