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- Christina Stone, JD
Attorney, certified specialist estate planning, trust and probate law
La Habra, CA

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From Another Era: Moms Lie

I was completing forms to qualify Dad for Medi-Cal when I asked Mom her birthdate. She rattled off a date, then immediately looked anxious. Her daughters on either side of her at the round conference table. In exact synchronization as though a string connected their heads each daughter turned her face towards her mother. Emotions played across their faces: puzzlement followed by surprise and then dawning anger at the realization that Mom had lied to them all these years about her birthdate.

The daughters exercised wonderful self-control. Neither said a word as I ignored the unspoken interplay and continued through the forms with Mom's strained assistance. Where before each daughter had leaned forward to participate in the process, now each sat back in her chair, wryly observing the proceedings. On my left I could see the eldest daughter's crossed leg moving up and down in deliberate contemplation. I worked hard not to smile. I could smell a confrontation a coming.

Finally I couldn't stand the tension. I said I had to leave the room to get another form. I was closing the door when I heard eldest daughter begin: "Mother, is there something we should know about?" Wisely, I stayed out the room until their raised voices died down.

In a conversation several days later, the eldest daughter confided to me that Mother had lied about her birthdate to cover the fact she was two years older than their father. Though piqued at her mother's duplicity, this daughter also understood and forgave her mother's actions. "Back in Mom's day it was not socially acceptable for a man to marry an older woman," she told me, shaking her head, "It couldn't have been easy for Mom, lying about that all these years."

Robert J Cullen

July 2003


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