Saturday, September 22, 2012

Mother's Birthday

Mother would have been ninety-five yesterday. The last rose of summer,  she died on the first day of spring. The memory of  her tiny, frail, withered end looms large.  She wore out at ninety.  All that fire doused by age, pills, and dementia, Mother's passing came in time.  A full life - her story is one of survival and fierceness in the face of some of life's greatest tragedies. Her last chapter was difficult for both of us but looking back five years, I now see that it was full of grace.  Her death was relatively peaceful - a liberation for both mother and daughter.
I was lucky to have such a mother.  It is her strength that I look to now. Her ability to fight. Her optimism. Her practical nature formed out of necessity.  Mother was ready for anything and could handle everything.

My father showed up in a dream I had the other night.  He seemed so distant. A long-ago memory of a figure from my childhood, he seemed for the first time in my life, insignificant. I've lived more than thirty  years of my life without him.  Life's real challenges started after his death so it is Mother whom I look to now as the model for living.  Self reliance is something I am only now learning.

Work has always been at the center of my life.  As a child, it was my parent's work in their business that was the dinner table talk. Work and home were intertwined.  My father sitting up late at night hunched over papers, writing furiously in his large scrawl, taught me sales.  My mother, up every morning to go into the office, taught me a work ethic and never to leave my desk messy at the end of the day.

Perspective is everything.

Thank God for my work.

Right now, my work is home.  It is my salvation.  It gives me purpose and meaning.  It gives me security.

And if work is home then I know I will always have a place to live.

Mother worked all her life.  Even after there was no office to go to,  she worked at being Ga Ga.  She was in the parking lot of my children's school waiting to drive them home every single day.

To the day she died, she worked at being my Mother.  "Do  you need anything?" she would ask from her wheel chair clutching an empty purse stuffed with Kleenex. "Do you need money?" she would ask.  "There's nothing we can't handle," she would say while pointing her arthritic finger at me.

Right. That's right.

Her fierce, fighting spirit burns within me.  Yes.  There's nothing we can't handle.

Thanks, Mom.  Happy Birthday.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Pink Flamingo Summer

My lack of roots this summer has had me less balanced than the one legged stance of the pink flamingos in my flower bed. I did not put them there. Someone else did. Their presence in my yard makes me feel like a stranger in my own home.
 I left them there to help me detach.

 I am as out of control as  the croquet balls batted around by the wacky Queen in Alice in Wonderland.  She used  pink flamingo mallets as I recall.
 Everything is topsy turvy.
 We are playing by someone else's rules.
There is  no point in trying to figure it out.  

I look down the street like I've done every day for five years
but Savona Walk doesn't look the same to me.
 Maybe it's because I'm preparing to have to let it go.
Maybe it's because there is such sadness at the other end of it.

Our time on Savona has been bookended by grief.
In between there was  laughter and fun.
       in paradise.


When it slips from your grasp -
your home
          your dream
                         your friend

you realize (again)
            nothing lasts.

And so what does it matter?
Strangers stay in your home.
You move to a one bedroom apartment and pretend it's a boat.

And  Pink Flamingos appear in your yard.