Mother's Day and I can not help but remember my Mom, my Mami. I had turned three when this photo was taken by my Dad. I got to wear white knee socks in new black shiny shoes and this very pretty white, winged, lacey dress. I still remember my excitement in getting dressed for our outing, while still in the bedroom of our old apartment up on the hill among the well-to-do rich folks. An area of town we would abandon 3 years later in favor of a working class neighborhood with more suitable friends for me, my parents thought, I disagreed.
I loved physical proximity with my Mom, sitting on her lap, holding hands or snuggling up in bed on Sunday mornings. Mami knew how to make reeds sing, I never learned. Mami liked to laugh, whistle and sing especially while riding her bike. I learned to like that as well. For a while, I rode on back of her bike until my foot got caught between the spokes right near our central train station in Zürich. I still remember the spot and how scared I had gotten, probably screamed more in fright than actual pain. I remember Mami's brown sunglasses and brown, wooden pearl necklace, the one I eventually inherited. I also remember a pin of a little black elephant she liked to wear with her gray striped suit. Eventually, that pin graced my black felt hat, until I lost it at our dog park. I also inherited a black elephant sculpture she must have brought back from Kenya, one of those various vacations to Africa my working-class parents treated themselves to. Mami loved to travel, loved geography and loved to explore and made sure they had plenty of opportunities to do just that.
I was born with black hair just like my Dad's but only a year after this photo was taken the hairdresser found my first white hair on the top of my head. I remember it clearly, the young hairdresser's loud exclamation, expressing her surprise to the whole hair salon. I was not sure if I should be embarrassed or pleased. Like my Mom and before her Dad, I too was to turn gray early on, but unlike my Mom, I swore to myself to never ever dye my hair, not a fake blond or an odd blue, ever. Mami was frequently mistaken for my grandmother by strangers, but my Mami was not old in spirit. Mami was energetic, expressive when she wanted to be, and she was the only Mom that ever played hide & seek with the whole gang of us kids and afterward treated us all to some chocolate.
Decades later I learned that what I had believed to be my good friend from across the street, who frequently came over to our home, came not so much because of me, but because of my Mom. Because Mami was so different, not kindly looked upon by her very conservative, fundamental Christian parents. My Mom smoked in public. Over the phone, Mami's voice would frequently be mistaken as that of a man. My Mom could be loud. Mami could laugh so hard I could hear her across the department store where she worked in the wine department. Those women working under younger men would drop wine bottles on purpose, on occasion only, so they could finish up the content and have some fun. Unlike her Dad, my Mom did not overdue it with alcohol, I have never seen her drunk ever, not even close.
My Mom insisted on her bread and butter - and meat, steak preferably, but neither one of my parents were alcoholics. I am grateful. I always believed myself to be vulnerable to addiction and therefore stayed clear of most addictive substances. While still in ninth grade, I rebelled by stealing and smoking my Dad's hidden cigarettes, those he really never touched and had gotten for free in cute little packages. The desire to smoke left me as suddenly, at the age of nineteen, as it appeared, at the age of 15. Same goes for the desire for meat that had left me the moment I had left my parent's home to live on my own. To this day I will trade in a bar of chocolate for a piece of meat anytime unless it is Hershey's kind of an abomination of what goes for chocolate in the US.
Today I am grateful for the good memories I do have with my Mom. We were estranged from since I was a teen to a year prior to her passing. It was painful. It seemed impossible. I moved to another continent with an ocean to separate us. Mothering is not easy and does not come naturally to those that have not gotten it right from the start. Wounds heal, the best we can do is try to keep our hearts soft and care to the best of our abilities. To all Mothers that try to do their best and love the best they know how.
Mother’s Day "perpetuates the dangerous idea that all parents are somehow superior to non-parents." - Anne Lamotte
I am nobody's Mom is a favorite saying of mine and is my attempt to escape the stereotype that a woman of my age and my shape with my kind of silvery/gray hair inevitably will find herself in. While I have done plenty of nurturing, cared for my clients for more than three decades, and while I am currently doing my best, but never enough, to nurture my furry companions, I truly am nobody's Mom. That is how I like it and how I prefer it.
My Mom passed away suddenly while she had been pan-frying steaks. Earlier that day she had gone out shopping by bike, while the steaks were sizzling my Mom keeled over. For a fiercely independent woman, her heart attack was a merciful quick means of transitioning. She would have hated a stint at the hospital and worse an extended stay at a nursing home.
We were estranged for several decades until I got a chance to help my parents move from an apartment they had occupied for more than 40 years. This move into a new place at their advanced age was huge for them and so was my willingness to help them. It changed us. For that last year in my Mom's life, living on different continents, we enjoyed frequent phone calls that nurtured us both.
Unlike Anne Lamotte, I hold no animus against Mother's Day, it is only one of many holidays I don't celebrate. I don't feel slighted either by the focus on mothers, same as I don't feel slighted by someone focused on eating steak, something I have not cared to eat since I left my parent's home even though some considered my Mom's steaks the very best. Holidays have become so commercialized, why should I care, much less begrudge a woman a bit of special attention?
Endearing to read Anne Lamotte's annual piece on Mother's Day in which she states that flowers and chocolates "can fill me only if it is ordinary and available to all." Such a moving sentiment that reminds me how as a 10-year-old girl I felt similar in regard to the kingdom of heaven. I imagined it impossible to enjoy heaven in the knowledge that others might not be allowed in, worse, might be roasting in the supposedly cleansing fires of purgatory. Needless to say, I don't celebrate Christian holidays any longer either. I will admit, I even resent holiday greetings or token presents that lack authenticity and are not embedded in a real and caring relationship. This goes without say for birthdays too. Those yearly cards from those that one never hears from otherwise or those facebook well-wishes from those that never bother to visit much less interact with one's facebook posts, I can do without.
I am rather convinced I did the world a favor in not having set loose one more human on an already overpopulated globe. So this tidbit by Anne Lamotte rather surprised me. "Ninety-eight percent of American parents secretly feel that if you have not had and raised a child, your capacity for love is somehow diminished. Ninety-eight percent of American parents secretly believe that non-parents cannot possibly know what it is to love unconditionally, to be selfless, to put yourself at risk for the gravest loss." Really? In my professional life, I have seen way too much dysfunction from inadequate parenting that perpetuates trauma from one generation on to the next.
This said, wherever we find love, be that between mother and child, between parents that honor and respect one another, among best of friends that confide in each other, in the sacred bond between client and therapist, or in those special moments when strangers meet and reveal themselves with authenticity and an open heart, and not least in our caring for those that depend on us such as our animal companions, it is always a thing of beauty.
In a long overdue update, I am happy to report that Sumo got his groove back. Since May especially, he just about returned to normal, his energy back up, able to jump up on beds and benches, eager to pursue bunnies, alert, wagging his tail in anticipation of my homemade food, eating on his own again, including regular kibble, on his initiative.
Sumo gets his CBD-oil only twice a day since May. I make a point to feed both of my pups a bit of raw tripe just about every day. It is supposedly so good for them, they tell me if I am in danger of forgetting, they like it. Buying the beef tripe dust raw in frozen little squares makes it rather economical, easy to use, with the stink far from unbearable. I transfer a few frozen squares into a closed container to thaw in the fridge and may later mix them with pumpkin puree or anything else suitable on hand. A bit of soft, thawed tripe is a great carrier for Sumo's oil and Isabella's thyroid medication.
I assume the vet was correct in diagnosing the mass in Sumo's belly as cancer. I can still feel the mass, but Sumo no longer suffers, so for now, we keep on going, taking one step at a time and hoping for the best.
Absolutely yes, we have an urgent need for Liberal Purists (I am not one of them) to learn the difference between an imperfect friend and an enemy. Yet, still, DNC shenanigans are brought forth as excuses for not having voted for her, Hillary. For the sake of future elections, get a grip!
Gorsuch already placed the deciding vote on the recent killing spree in Arkansas where they were intent on clearing out their death row in one big swoop, in one week, with the use of drugs about to expire! Gorsuch placed the deciding vote on the denial of a DNA test, that is on everyone that took a gamble by either voting for him or not voting for her. Ultra-conservative Gorsuch would not be on the Supreme Court if we had more voters able to hold a big picture and perceive nuances.
Trump-Care, an abomination of a proposed bill by, yep, you guessed it mainly old white & rich men, would do away with pre-existing conditions and have seniors pay as much as 6 x the normal insurance rate, in effect guarantee that I would never ever enjoy the benefits of insurance, ever. Trump-Care-lessness would also have a devastating effect on more rural hospitals, such as ours here in Santa Fe in the poor state of New Mexico, when needs will outpace the ability of patients to pay. Trump-Carelessness would take away funding for Planned Parenthood from clinics I have gotten excellent care from for decades, I am not talking abortions. This monstrosity of a bill would never have passed the House as it just did with her at the helm. While Hillary could not be fully trusted to support Single Payer healthcare, I assume because she of all people does know the mindset of the far right that opposes what the majority of people want, I would be so happy to settle for incremental change for a bit longer then having to witness what is unfolding and the dire suffering so much of this will cause.
I am so upset with those that still insist not voting for Hillary was the right thing to do yet refuse to take any blame in what we have got now. Get some perspective, learn to hold the long-term goals in mind & heart, rather than demand instant gratification, appreciate the nuances. We need to do better, a whole lot better in the future.