- My mother died at age 90 in 2018 and I struggled with grief.
- He married at the age of 13 and had six children, of whom I was the fifth.
- I wanted to clone my mother until I realized that it would not be my mother but a totally different person.
I suffered pain of biblical proportions when my mother died at age 90 in 2018. In a haze of sadness, it seemed comforting to imagine cloning she in a fertility clinic laboratory, where I could raise her as my daughter.
My mother, Naimma, was born in a remote village along the Tigris River in Iraq, where she faced many hardships. She grew up in a small Arab community that shared the Muslim religion. She was shaped by her parents, whom I never met. She mourned their early deaths, praying for them in the cemetery every day for years. she had a arranged marriage at 13 and welcomed her first child at 14. I was number 5 of her six children. She had just arrived in the United States when I was born and she had to learn English.
I was 12 years old when my father died suddenly in 1969 of a heart attack. My mother now had to raise her children by herself. She took the GRE, worked hard at California State University, Los Angeles, and earned her teaching credentials. She taught for the downtown Los Angeles Unified School District until she retired.
She was so proud that I was going to be a doctor and she made it possible for me to pay for medical school in Los Angeles. I want to thank her for the sacrifices she made to ensure my life was better. She wished she could make his new life better.
She wouldn’t be the same person if I cloned her
But after reconnecting with the reality of cloning my mother, I saw the futility of my fantasy. She would be a project, an object designed with unrealistic expectations. She would grow up loving me like a father. Parenting is a social activity, not a purely biological one.
My cloned mother would be over 90 years younger than my real mother. Although she would eventually become like her, she would not have the experiences unique to her that made her the woman she so missed.
My cloned mother would not meet or marry my father. She wouldn’t have the hilarious bad intentions of hers, like “The Star Bangler Spangle” and “You are a rat pack.” She would not be leading me to the hadj in Mecca and showing me the traditions of Ramadan.
Now religion would be his choice. She would not be underemployed due to her limited early access to education. Her eventual medical problems could be mitigated or even prevented, since she would be aware of what her body was doing as she aged. I wouldn’t have to stand by and watch her slide slowly into insanity.
What relationship would my brothers and sisters have with a reincarnation of our mother? Some have already passed away, so even before my new mom was born, she would have children who would die. The rest of them might be jealous that she loved me more than them. They would be confused aunts and uncles instead of sons and daughters.
A clone is not a perfect copy of an individual. If we clone John F. Kennedy, Princess Diana, or Martin Luther King Jr., these children are unlikely to live up to the hype to achieve what their genetic predecessors did.
No, there would be no comfort in trying to recreate my mother. The new Naimma would be a completely different person, even though anatomically she had the same genome. She wouldn’t be my mom, who I miss so much.
Dr Samir Shahin, is a family medicine physician in Los Angeles. He wrote a sci-fi romance novel, “Override,” about sending embryos into space with an artificial intelligence caretaker.