The Death Of a Mother

When I was about fourteen, maybe fifteen, my very intelligent, often witty and joyful, yet sometimes deeply depressed and distantly aloof mother attempted to leave the life she had created for herself–a divorced mother of two adolescents who had opted to leave her and live with their career driven but kind father across town…

At that juncture in my young life, I had no idea looking into the glazed almost lifeless eyes of my overdosed suicidal– barely aborted at the last possible moment by a silently hysterical teen daughter– Momma, my friend, my first editor, my first love, that I would in fact in less than a dozen years from that date, finally have to let her go on her path to death alone, unattended in yet another exhaust filled small garage –this time filled with the fumes of a small cherry red Chevette four door compact.  This week a colleague of mine at the small high school where I work has lost her beloved mom to the infirmaries of old age.  I mourn for her.  It is not ever pleasant to loose one’s mother, no matter what the circumstances. I feel my heart lurching at the thoughts of losing a mom, my mother, a friend’s mother, even an acquaintance’s mother. My heart crunches in my chest, and tears pop to the corner of my eyes, and sting me again from a place of experience that only those who have struggled to keep someone they love here instead of letting go can know. I see the struggle in my students at times, because teens are raw, as I was once a teen and once raw, but my rawness was muted with the knowledge that it was and is all too easy to allow one’s temporary emotional pit to take over.

Mom never allowed hereself to speak about her blackest moments to me, but her eyes never lied. Her presentation to the world was one of very “put together” and “proper” Presbyterian southern lady, not much make up, proper and conservative clothes, Chanel No. 5 perfume, and Ivory soap.  She smelled like an angel, and her prematurely grey hair was covered by a soft auburn dye, which she managed at home by herself. She was independent, a mechanically sound woman able to work on her own lawn mower and car to a great extent, a linguistic genious, a grammatically perfected lady of the 1950’s and 19560’s.  No muss and no fuss, but perfect.  Always speaking and laughing in  perfectly modulated tones, unless the chemicals became unbalanced in her exceedingly quick brain, and only on those occasions could screams and shouts  be intuitied or even possibly heard by neighbors– evilly scary occasions. Rarely did the facade of calm break in public or in any place that could be considered not private.  She broke glasses, plates, and our hearts.  My brother grew up resenting her, resenting our father, and simply resenting the lack of “guidance” in life that most kids from “normal” families have and can count on daily.  I was –only two and hald years older –the one who roused him for the school bus some mornings when our mom could not.  I was the one who ended up driving him to school after we abandoned her dark, moody,  70’s custom built, lake view home to the cheery  yet mildly decripid rental slump of our father’s  tiny remodeled 50’s downtown home. I remember my little brother’s smelly socks, my inadequate laundrying  and absent coooking abilities, and the puppy that Dad had bought us to ease the pain of our mother’s rejection.  I ran away from her, and David got kicked out of Mom’s prestine presence. The new tiny cocker spaniel puppy peed all over the floor, carpet, our feet whenever we petted her.   She was a sad puppy, starved for proper attention, as we were as teens. We were starved for attention, but we had food. We had clothing. We had a car for transport.  Dad kept the house neat as possible, but frankly, the home  was trashed by two teens who had never learned the art of housekeeping, laundry, or even proper showers from their mom.

So I mourn my mom, to this day. I don’t mourn growing up and getting out of the chaos of my childhood. I don’t mourn the mistake of my first 25 year marriage to the young man whom I thought of more as a friend than a lover, and I don’t mourn the fact he cheated on me for years as an answer to the loopsided love.  I don’t mourn  the joy of rasing my own children without my mom.  I don’t mourn –now–my own divorce.  I mourn the loss of my mom’s potential. I was only 27 when she passed.  I feel like the loss of her thwarted my potential in many ways, for many years.  Moms are supposed to grow old with their daughters and sons.  Moms are supposed to become worrisome, burdensome, old, fragile, frail, and funny.  Moms are supposed to see grandchildren and great grandchildren appear. Moms are to be the angels on earth for 90 plus years if possible.  To my mom, I say, thank  you for lasting as long as you could, and I remember your Chanel No.5 and your terry cloth robes, your laughter and your strong coffee. I am your daughter, and I know you would be proud.

Don’t Live in Fear

The one thing I have really learned these past years as a single person and continue now to learn as a married lady (never in my wildest dreams did I suspect that I’d be married again) is that one must never live in “fear” in life.  When I say that I don’t mean that a person should go out on a limb and intentionally put herself in danger or be blind to another’s motives. One should always be cognizant of the issues of life with the forces of negativity on this planet. However, if one’s calling is to work with impoverished inner-city children in a dangerous neighborhood, then one should follow her calling.  If one has the impulse to go to Europe and has the means, then one should go. The traveling and the exploration of this world are not to be feared but embraced.  Does that mean bad things don’t happen to people? No, that is not what I am stating. I am proclaiming that if the human race is to evolve, love, not fear, must be the driving force in life. To stay at home and not take chances is the worst one could do in any circumstances. The real growth comes with facing the unknown and allowing oneself to conquer the initial anxiety and move toward the calling, the emotion of love and compassion and sharing those with others.

So, my advice to students or young people I have met and will continue to meet in life is to go explore one’s calling, one’s passions, one’s desires in this world. When a person knows himself well enough to do these things, then the entire human race moves forward with that person’s growth.

A Lost Little Dog

I had known him about a year and we had become quite serious with one another, even to the point I had relocated my job and my home for him. I was in love in a way I never thought possible. It was soul love, best friend love, chemically induced hubba hubba love and all those fairy tales I was told as a child of the 60’s and 70’s plus some I didn’t even know existed. I laughed every day until my stomach was hurting. I ate well and was pampered and allowed to just be myself. I was the princess who rescued the prince, and also rescuing herself at the same time. I was allowed to be me in ways I had never experienced, and I kept shaking my head waiting for that glass slipper to drop and splinter into crystal shards. I was in paradise on a mountain over a lake and countryside full of bubbling springs, artists, ex-hippies, writers, and retired folk. I was teaching at a tiny rural school nestled in an artists’ community. I was in love with life. I was in love.

In the courtship, before my transition to the tiny school, my prince had to get a house sitter/doggie and kitty cat sitter when it was apparent that his current hired hand was on another road to rekindling a drug addiction. It was his determination to spin time with me that caused him to seek a replacement dog/cat/ house sitter, and it became very apparent that my prince was determined to court me with equity and kindness, and that his beloved pets whom he adored, would be taken care of in the manner in which he wanted them to be cared for each day at his home. I was not aware that he had made such elaborate plans, but he loved his little dog and his big hound dog and his kitty cat named after Stevie Ray Vaughn.  It was all good.

As we progressed our relationship, he proposed that I live with him, marry him, and change jobs…almost within the same breath. I was stunned and happy, and somehow it clicked like a Swiss-made watch. WE moved me into this wooded paradise by the lake, and we began a life together with my art, my writing, my life moving the direction I wished with his doggies and kitty cat midlife children adopting me.  We took two trips to see his parents and family in Chicago over the course of the first 9 months we were together. All was well. All was genuinely cool until the first big snow storm hit, and we were snowed in and his hand had been through its second surgery in six months. He was tense about finances, and I was tense about giving up my hard won independence and the serious nature of our relationship was on the tenuous ground of holding back and not saying what we feared. Then I made an error at the exact same time he made the same error. We confided in the neighbor and new friend who had become our trusted doggie/ cat / house sitter. She offered to be a sounding board for me –a safe place to vent frustrations about work, about life, even the relationship. My prince trusted her as well about similar items and spoke to her about me. This newly trusted person in our lives then began to play “counselor” and ” a trusted confidant” to us both, unknown to either of us.

She then planted seeds of distrust, perhaps unknowingly at first, but at a certain point, it became a boiling point in the relationship, and she was trapped into what she thought was the right thing to do in her mind but was absolutely destructive until we took her innocently placed advice—to go to a recommended premarital counselor. She tried to pick one for us, assuming that our differences were too deep to be resolved–and in some ways she was right. We needed help in our communication, our approach to each other, and the baggage of 50 plus years on this planet.  What she never really considered is that we would figure out the best way to approach this bridge with the help of a counselor out of her loop or sphere of influence because he was recommended by her first choice. My man and I weathered 8 plus sessions of counseling and found we were just about a perfect match.  It was a godsend. Then, however, through the timing and the absence of us at home in the evenings,  the little dog was lost, bitten by the confusion of our relationship changing with each other and with the neighbor who had become her “other owner” so to speak after several weeks of looking after  the doggies as we did counseling. It became apparent that the well past mid-life doggie was a pawn in the relationship triangle.  It was sad to see the confusion of the little dog that had once been the running mate of our larger more outdoor hound dog who was also my prince’s favorite pet.

He and I were hurt and reached out to our neighbor and once close friend. She bowed out. She continued to “entertain” our littlest dog but had locked out our  big black hound  dog due to her pet chickens.  We thought we could forge a new relationship with her, but she ignored our texts and calls, the olive branches we extended, and the little dog was fast becoming the pawn in the game.  We ended the stalemate by finding our little one–his first dog — a new owner, one in an adjoining county who loved her at first sight. It was over, but so was the friendship that both of us had considered very close. It was now obvious to us that our neighbor had some sort of agenda that did not involve us being happy. The lost little dog was not only the pet but the friendship, small, loud at once, and then silent, and unstable in temperament and strength, intelligent but struggling with the stubbornness to release old habits that no longer serve all for the same good or benefit.  I believe that decisions are guided  by a Source or Creator that exists and are at times hard for each of us to make because there is truly free will involved so that the lessons can continue to arrive as needed.   The little one pictured below is now in a happy home a county away from this home, living out her life with other small dogs and a doting owner. No one can always foresee the future, but each has the responsibility to honor the present moment.

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Really Love You, But Please Don’t Look In My Trunk

The problem with any relationship, whether it be a friend or a lover, is the pursuit of complete transparency and honesty while remaining private in some past areas of your life. The fact of the matter is that we all have secrets, or areas of our lives we’d just rather not remember, rehash, or explain to a loved one, be it family, friend, or current lover.  Really, there are two kinds of memories, those who make us smile, and those who cause our eyes to burn like acid has been poured into them.  Some of the sad memories are okay to be shared, but most unhappy memories are better left tightly locked in the trunk of the car of our minds. An occasional thump can be heard when we are driving to new loves or new destinations of friendship or relationships, but that thump could be just a thump of a recalcitrant water bottle from yoga class or a loose tool from the emergency kit, and we don’t have to ever open that trunk up while we are driving.  In fact, it’s dangerous to open a trunk up at full-speed down the highway of love.  No telling what might fly out of the back of our brain’s nested contents.

So this week, I discovered late down the highway of love to let the bumps sound without opening the trunk at high speeds. Let it ride, let the bumps and thumps in the trunk make a rhythm that is innocuous for the moment. Open that trunk later, much later, when the speed has slowed.

When I Met Myself

IMG_2511Today I had a huge wake up call in the form of looking in a not so brilliant reflection of pent in anger. It wasn’t my anger, but it could have been my anger from ten years ago. I was calm in the face of anger, but it didn’t help, because in reality, there was a tiny, tiny part of me that was waiting for it, expecting it. I don’t feel that another’s emotions are my responsibility any more, but there are those moments in time when I see the train at the end of the tunnel, and it is headed for me regardless of how “evolved” I feel I might have grown. I have to own my part in things, and that being said, I do.

Now I have to go figure out how to fix it, and how to fix, more importantly MYSELF. It is never really about the other guy, but about one’s reaction, response, and communication with one’s inner being. Life can be dark or it can be light. All your choice. All my choice.
Namaste.