Tag Archives: moms

She took my mother with her

My mother was of the Moon. Aren’t all women?

Each month, when the moon is full, my mother comes to visit. I know it’s her way of telling me that she’s still with me. And how lovely to know that we’ll see each other every month until I no longer inhabit the earth. Perhaps then I’ll be with her on our infinite journey.

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I usually photograph the rising moon or when it’s high in the sky. But this time, the first full moon after my mother’s death, I awoke early at 5:00 am and looked out the window. The moon was sliding down into her setting, and I said my final goodbye as the she took my mother with her.

The August moon is the most precious as my mom’s birthday is August 19th.

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My mother’s hands – a symbol of love

This week’s photo challenge is “symbol.” I don’t usually write much for these photo challenges because I think the photo should speak for itself. But we were also asked to tell the story behind the choice of our symbol.

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My mother’s hands. The last time I saw her. We were sitting on her patio in San Miguel de Allende, July 2010.

These hands held me, caressed me, bathed me, massaged me, wrapped around my face, and held me when I was learning to swim. They brushed my hair, cooked food, tended flowers in the garden, held our kitties, stroked our dogs, and cared for her beloved horses.

They held castanets and ballet positions when we danced together. And they played her piano. Beautifully. They were poetry in motion.

They never once hurt me. They were living symbols of love. And when she was dying, I held her hands in mine and gave her back as much love as I could.

Faded memories no more

August 19, 2014

I’ve just reconnected with my dear friend Russ from 42 years ago. Little did he know what a gift he gave to me today.

ninaMy mother would have been 86 today, and I wish she were alive to see these old photos of me dancing my heart out with abandon, especially since I was ballet-trained and normally very disciplined. (These photos are stills taken from a very old film.)

 

She loved my dancing, supported and encouraged me, and she was there when I fell from grace.

Russ sent me a link to a dance recital from high school back in 1972. Memories of that night flooded back to me. Dance was my life, my breath, my soul. I went professional for one year before realizing the competition was too stiff and the pain too great. I came home from New York a little bit broken, but I knew I had made the right decision to quit. I continued dancing for years and now wonder why I don’t anymore.

Memories fade, what the body could do fades, the desire fades. After enough years, even the belief that one could do this—actually did do this—fades. I never felt good enough, always feared that I wouldn’t live up to expectations, knew that I didn’t have what it took to be a real dancer. Sometimes I wonder if it happened at all, was this person truly me?

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I have photographs of my “dance career”, but even they seem unreal, posed, photos in frames on the wall that became wallpaper that no one ever looked at anymore.

But seeing an actual film of myself dancing with movement, soul, grace, and (gulp, dare I say it?) some talent, I knew it was me and it was real. We can never go back to another time, the past is the past, it’s over and done. I’ll never be that young, lithe body again, I’ll never feel on top of the world again, dancing with such freedom or suspended en pointe holding an arabesque for endless seconds. That chapter is closed.

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And yet. Russ, you gave me back a part of my life today and made it live again inside of me. I can say with all honesty that I’m filled with joy for what had been. Seeing that chapter open for one moment has allowed me to close it once and for all without regrets. I am truly grateful for this gift of my past life, which I can now reintegrate into my present life emotionally, if not physically.

At her finest...

At her finest…

Mom, this is my gift to you today. You did well with your love, and these small moments are a tribute to you. Miss you so much.

Breathing again

The greatest gift this birthday was the full moon, which brought my mother to me in its silvery light. I’m breathing again three years after her death; this is the first birthday I’ve wanted to celebrate since then. It’s just like her to know this and send the full moon to me.

P1010978Two years ago, I posted a piece about the gifts she had given to me on various birthdays (My birthday gift to you). This one tops the charts, for it’s the gift of getting my life back without the black hole that became my heart for too long. Life does go on with its pains and losses, joys and discoveries, and above all, with all the richness of color and living things that surround us if we take the time to look.

To breathe again is to take in the world and realize that this most precious thing we call life has been given to us…not to waste or rage against or try to obliterate. My birthday wish this year is the hope that the millions of people who don’t even come close to having what I have will be able to breathe one day and start to live.

Why?

Why not?

When I was younger and full of spunk, that was my answer.

But that was before society crashed into my psyche and started asking why I do nearly everything I do. Why do you do that? What were you thinking? What was your motive? What do you suppose happened? What will you do in the future to change?

I’ve apologized for so many things I’ve done, small and large, until I feel like I’m going to break. Self-esteem has hit rock bottom off and on for 50 years. And you know what? I don’t know why I do a lot of things. And I’m tired of explaining, justifying, apologizing.

I finally remembered something my mom said years ago, and it’s my mantra now. “Because it seemed like a good idea at the time.”

This is my philosophy from now on. Why not?

Upside down kitty(Downloaded from FB, photographer unknown but want to credit whoever made this wonderful photo!)

Her true love

Today would have been my mom’s 84th birthday. It’s the second birthday since her death, and some of the wind is still knocked out of my sails without her.

Thinking of her today, I remembered all that she loved, and there was a lot. Her family, her piano, her dancing, her ocean.

But most of all, her true love was her magnificent horse, Negro (the Spanish pronunciation “naygro” meaning black). She rode and jumped him with abandon, as she did life, up until she was about 74 years old.

These 3 photos were taken on her 70th birthday. Happy birthday, wherever you are, my sweet mamma.

Memories of a mom who broke the code

At her finest...

This Mother’s Day is a challenge, to say the least. I lost my mother just after New Year’s, and today looms large in my heart. She was not the perfect mother, thank god, for she showed us what it meant to be human–to struggle, to fight, to fail, to win, to dance (wildly with abandon at times), to be crazy with jealousy, but also to love, to give, to cherish her children, and above all to maintain grace and dignity. Especially when she was ill and in pain, and then in death. In short, she broke “the code” of what mothers were supposed to be in the 50s and 60s.

She was a talented, bright woman who had a somewhat entitled upbringing and a private school education. She studied ballet, piano, Latin, French, and opera singing. She had a beautiful soprano voice, a talent she was most proud of against her mother’s contralto. Her mother had dreams of sending my mom off to Vassar or Smith College, but Mom chose the University of Chicago, where she was accepted into the Hutchins program at age 16. Her mother was devastated. Her father secretly was thrilled that she chose the courage of her convictions.

The first time she called home, her mother couldn’t hear her very well and thus began my grandmother’s lifelong deafness in one ear. Talk about guilt. You don’t need to be a shrink to ponder the meaning of that one. I don’t think my grandmother ever forgave my mom for ruining her dreams, forget about what my mom may have wanted. I can’t imagine having lived with that all my life, but my mom did.

When my parents got married, they were determined to live a life very different from their well-to-do parents. They wanted to travel the world, live on the spur of the moment, write, play piano, sing, and sail. Suddenly, too suddenly as they were so young, there were two children. All plans of serendipity went out the window and they settled down to a stable and secure suburban life, something that nearly killed my mother a couple of times. When I was born five years later, my mother knew she was in this life for the long haul. She accepted it (mostly) with grace and had a great time with us kids, even if she fought “what was expected of her” tooth and nail.

During the tense years of our teenage-hood in the 60s and 70s, she managed to hold things together pretty well, but she also had a number of meltdowns. Who didn’t? But most parents during that time were able to deny or hide the problems all too well. They suffered in silence thinking they were the only ones going through hell and doing their darnedest to maintain their suburban images: two-car garages, pristine lawns, cocktail parties, family Thanksgivings, weekend sailing trips, perfect anniversary celebrations, and above all for her, being the “perfect mom.”  There was a lot of pressure on her to be perfect living in Pacific Palisades where everyone seemed to be perfect.

To this day, I’m so proud of her for “failing” in this task. She couldn’t stand the hypocrisy of it all and refused to play along. Her fiery views on politics, religion, and the outrageous inequalities in life were wonderful to behold in a roomful of “don’t rock the boat” white, upper-middle-class, always-do-and-say-the-right-thing people. I don’t know where she found the courage to break the code over and over, because at that time it was a very lonely and scary road to take. Friends dropped away, and my father grew tired of her passionate “ravings” and just wanted a quiet life. After nearly 40 years of marriage, my father divorced my mother and married a quiet woman 23 years his junior.

Our mother was devastated. Though my parents’ marriage had been tense and rocky, with affairs on both sides and one near divorce in the early 60s, they always came back together. This time was different and somehow Mom knew. So she did what every scorned woman should do in this situation: she moved to Mexico, partied and danced, rode horses, began singing again, and met a man 10 years her junior who just adored her. Though not all roses, she lived one hell of a life in San Miguel de Allende for the last 25 years.

As I think about her today, I’ll remember hundreds of details about her, but the main ones are these: How she was able to live “in the moment” so easily. She was like a cat that immediately owns any place it sits. When she walked into a room, heads literally turned, she was that beautiful. Wherever she went, she belonged. She always said, “just act like you belong and no one will question you.” Her courage, both physical and emotional, was unstoppable. Her beautiful hands and fingers when she played the piano. Singing, singing, singing.

Above all, her grace and dignity. There are no words to describe the experience of being under the spell of her grace and dignity.

Before she died, I had given her my book and inscribed in it the following words:
“For Mom, you gave me my life and your love. I will always cherish both.”

Missing your beautiful voice and soothing words today, but also knowing that you’re with me inside. Hats off to all moms today.