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.

The Medicine Wheel and My Spirit Flag is South

I was married just a week when Melissa, a good spiritual friend of mine, called me one day and asked if I’d be interested in joining a tipi talk, medicine wheel evening with John Two-Hawks, a Grammy award winning musician and his wife, Peggy Hill at their home near my new mountaintop home in the Ozarks. Melissa said she thought I would get a lot out of it, and especially Kevin, my beloved new husband, who has a very nature based belief in God, Source, and Creator.  I immediately said, “YES! But let me confirm with Kevin, first.”  Kevin was immediately enthusiastic, and we signed up to be one of a total of nine people on June 27 in Two Hawks’ medicine circle, learning the Lakota ways, the Lakota beliefs, and how we must live with Mother Earth in a respectful way.

We arrive at Two Hawks’ tipi and are escorted to a circle around a not yet ignited camp fire for introductions and small conversations. Two Hawks appears dressed in  his Lakota Medicine Man hides and beaded chest coverings with his hair braided back. I am in immediate awe of his calmness. I am glad we are here in his and his lovely wife’s presence on their land, Creator’s land, about to have a spiritually filled night. Kevin and I learn that  the home of the Lakota is a tipi is not spelled with “e” but with  an “i” and that the medicine wheel is one of contemplation, prayer, and connection to spirit. Two Hawks teaches us the Lakota way of prayer ties, the path of red or the path of black or blue in life which we much choose, and how to construct a prayer tie properly with a pinch of tobacco and simple cotton cloth in one of the four colors–red, yellow, white, or blue.  We all make a red prayer tie to honor the nine recently killed victims in the St. Louis hate based church shooting and one more for a personal prayer. Kevin and I choose yellow for our prayer ties to represent new beginnings, new love, future.  The prayer ties each of us did for the shooting victims are in red, for blood, passion, and forgiveness. The powers we have as humans are to change, to evolve toward love and compassion. The Lakota knew this century before, and the prayer wheel represents a union of all races and all beliefs, as Two-Hawk explains each color’s significance. We adjourn from the introductions and are instructed in prayer ties, and begin our entrance after a sage smudging into the prayer circle walk.   As I walk around the stone enclosed prayer circle, stopping at each position to feel the peace, I look to see where I will tie my prayer ties to overhanging branches, In front of the next to last direction, the white prayer flag, the point of spirit, south’s sacred vibration, I feel my heart buzz and expand in my chest. There is not a doubt in my mind that this IS my place in the world.  I am happy and circle once more to the overhanging oak branches at the entrance, which is East, to place my prayer tie for those who died in the shooting, and then again I circle to the pines near the West  and the South prayer flags, representing the storms of life we must overcome, to place my yellow prayer for a good future, half way between the South and the West, as I see my marriage, so many storms passed, and so much “new life”  —spiritual life after the death of  my former dreams. It is all good, and Creator blesses us with a conversation and very touching historical talk from Two Hawks, a campfire song in Lakota, and his flute music filling our ears and hearts with love.

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Lakota Medicine Wheel

Medicine Wheel

The medicine wheel is a sacred symbol used by Plains tribes and others to represent all knowledge of the universe.

The medicine wheel consists of a circle with horizontal and vertical lines drawn through the circle’s center. Sometimes, an eagle feather is attached in the wheel’s center.

Design Meaning
Circle – The circle represents the sacred outer boundary of the Earth often referred to as the Sun Dance Circle or the Sacred Hoop. It represents the continuous pattern of on-going life and death.

Lines – The horizontal and vertical lines represent the sun and man’s sacred paths, respectively; the crossing of the two lines indicates the center of the Earth where one stands when praying.

Feather – The eagle feather is a sign of Wakan Tanka’s – the Great Spirit’s – power over everything.

Color Explanation
The directions, as they are called upon in the medicine wheel, are often associated with a sacred color. Each direction has a messenger.

Color placement on the wheel varies based on individual band customs.

East:

  • Color – Yellow
  • Messenger – Brown Eagle
  • Associated with the sun, brings light to all creation.
  • Because the sun travels east to west – in a clockwise manner – all good things conform to the same pattern.
  • The Morning Star – the star of wisdom and new beginnings – comes from the east.
  • Elk people call the east home.

North:

  • Color – Red
  • Messenger – Crane
  • North is home to winter and is believed to promote good health and growth.
  • Those who misbehave look to the north for the wisdom needed to walk a straight path again.
  • Home to the Calf Pipe Woman and the buffalo people.

West:

  • Color – Black
  • Messenger – Black Eagle
  • Connected with the power of rain and the purity of water; joy and growth follow the rain, releasing ignorance.
  • West is home to the Thunder-being. His wings produce thunder and lightening flashes from his eyes. The bird-like being stands again evil and ensures the respect of others.

South:

  • Color – White
  • Messenger – Bald Eagle
  • Associated with warmth, happiness and generosity.
  • Connected with life after death, directs men as they walk toward the next phase
  • Life begins in the south.
  • Nourishment of every kind comes from this direction.
  • Home to the animal people.

– See more at: http://aktalakota.stjo.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=8592#sthash.52c8wIi8.dpuf

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.