Today is the 102nd anniversary of my mother’s birth. Given our stormy history, I have not thought about her very often over the years. Until recently. It seems that it is one of the last bastions of my karmic study; something that I have not addressed beyond “Why me?” I don’t know why the innocence of childhood is so forcefully disrupted by the actions of a parent. I don’t know why a parent can allow his/ or herself to abuse a child, any child, but especially their own child, through inappropriate physical contact. I don’t know how a parent can be aware that the way they speak to and about their child has an ever-lasting effect upon that child’s esteem and feelings of worth. I don’t know; and I don’t think that I will ever know. Some questions go unanswered in life. I wonder if there is some sort of review board in the afterlife that explains everything.
When I have thought of her over the years, I have been careful to try to be matter of fact and not revisit the traumatic parts of our relationship. Even before she died (in 1992, from complications of MS) I had done the work and been able to let that part go and I found that I was able to do was separate the woman from the parent.
The woman was dynamic. She was extremely talented in both pastel art and as the creator of fine sterling silver jewelry. She was an extraordinary teacher who won multiple awards for her ability to design education platforms that recognized students’ abilities and encouraged them to become excited about learning. In her later years, even after she’d retired she kept on teaching through community programs for both young people and adults, teaching arts and crafts and leading book discussion groups. Reading was the vehicle through which she touched so many of her students, and yes, even this specific one of her children. As a teacher, she used her ability to read stories so well to bribe her classes to get their work done. Extra class time meant there would be time to have the next chapter read. As a parent, she would read to us every night, trading off with Dad when he was home. Those who came to our sleep-over parties were mesmerized with the stories she read by the firelight.
She had a marvelous sense of humor that was quick and sometimes a tad on the absurd side. Oftentimes, it showed itself in some elaborate scheme pulled together to entertain her intended audience, be it a group of children at a birthday party, the adults in a family gathering, or at one of my father’s business parties. As an adult, I would often admire her ability to be in a room full of people and subtly make certain that each person was attended to, welcomed, and at least for a few minutes the object of the shining light of her personality. She was lively, and vivacious; and incredibly gorgeous.
This is the woman I have been striving to remember.