I don’t spend my days listening to fringe news or scouring YouTube to follow the latest conspiracy down into the void, perhaps that is because I am busy encouraging young people to read slowly and carefully and respond in a way that shows their own well-developed reasoning, but even if I wasn’t, I’d like to think I would spend my energy in innovative adaptions to our new COVID 19 reality. There are days when I wonder who has the nerve to grab their military weapons and take to the street with dangerous demands, and on those days I remember the audacity of white privilege and the lengths it will take someone, and then I remember this is not the case for black men who are hunted without penalty, and then I remember still, oh yeah, I’ve got a job to do, so I go back to thinking of my students, who are still showing up by the way. By whatever determination they are conjuring, they are my heroes today, so I focus on them and ignore the crazy out there.
That isn’t what I want to write about though. Enough with a world of crazy and the sensational headlines, let’s talk mothers, aunts, and step-moms, and your girlfriends who are always there to support your mothering. Today, let’s remember those ladies, who bathed you when you were a mess, and held your hand when the world got dark, women who said do it, and pushed you onward when you were sliding back. The mothers who stripped your hurt and replaced it with hope. Those ladies who were the prettiest ones for ever and ever and even when their faces were roadmaps to loads of worry you could find a happy day. In fact, you were always their happiest day. Just you. I had such a mother. She was a larger than life forever waiting for another party to start hard working and smart cookie type. Her laugh legendary. Her smile big and easy. Her ability to give endless. And as flawed as they come, needing to apologize endlessly for all sorts of mix-ups and wrong comments and weird gifts. But she was perfectly imaginative and daring, everyone’s best date who looked smashing in orange and loved me best.
Memory flooded my mind these weeks. Perhaps leisure during Labor Day Weekend allows that for some of us. This holiday, a century old acknowledgment for those who labor around us, building and mending our structures and infrastructures, three days that neatly divide summer from fall, freedom days from the job-filled days, a weekend when 35 million people hit the road or take to the skies for one last fling, or in the case of many travelers, bring their college students to their respective college; regardless, that long weekend filled me with images. It wasn’t all that long ago that I too drove the highways for that task, and although I would say I eventually got better at those goodbyes, I am reminded of a first one, many years ago, made easier by the wisdom of my mother.
Mothers and their daughters. I do suppose one might say, fathers and sons, but for me, as a daughter and a mother, these two relationships have loomed large. If fact the complexity is still unfolding for me, the relationship I had with my mother, the one I still forge with my daughter. Some of my mother’s finest gifts took years to appreciate. Remembering a Labor Day weekend, years ago, me with a SUV packed full with my daughter and her ‘bare essentials’ as a Freshman entering college, and my mother waiting for us in a five star hotel, is certainly one of those gifts.
May brings the days we live for in northern Vermont. Long afternoons to get outside, all of us, and even in the slanted sunlight we rejoice for this freedom. Winter, almost a distant memory as temps rise, and all around buds green and flowers red. Oh Lady Spring, thank you for all the gifts.
After the last suture was stitched, the mohs surgeon said he was going to cover the incision with glue. This guy is the best. You wait months to be in his surgical chair. And he’s funny, so I thought the glue comment might be a joke. But no, his intern told me with his eyes, glue is the next step. And then, as he applied the sticky goo across his handy work, my Dr. broke into another chorus with his favorite group, Supertramp, who had been serenading us during the whole procedure through the portable speakers.
Take a dream on a Sunday
Take a life, take a holiday
Take a lie, take a dreamer
Dream, dream, dream, dream, dream along
As we approach this Sunday in May when families sing the praise of the woman who brought them into this world, or the woman who adopted them, those mothers and step-mothers or aunts and grandmothers, let us also remember the mentors and caregivers, for there are many ways to mother after all; let us collectively nod our heads to those who nursed through feverous nights or cheered during wet soccer games and heralded us along with a nudge and even a song. Mother’s Day celebrates the cycle of love spiraling down the generations, from those who mother to all the rest. Honor her, in her multitude of forms, indeed.
This photo was captured on my last afternoon with both my mother and my godmother, and it will be a precious memento for years to come. We stood on a balcony in the Palm Beach sunshine and did nothing but smile in that embrace. Now, they are both gone, but I count myself the luckiest of girls to have been with them for six decades, for their love is an epic tale.
Memories abound where my mother is concerned, but I do have a favorite. Although it is a singular experience, when we attended Alexander McQueen’s retrospective, “Savage Beauty,” that summer day in 2011 exemplifies noteworthy traits that my mother had in droves. Although the Metropolitan Museum of Art allowed its members to skip the monster line or attend on Mondays, there “closed” day, just to be part of the fun, my mother (who was a member) and I, stood on the 2 hour line with the masses. This curated event of a hundred ensembles and seventy accessories was unprecedented and there was no way my mother would not be part of the crowded excitement; “By the time the exhibit closed, over 650,000 people had seen it, making it one of the most popular exhibits in the museum’s history, and its most popular fashion exhibit ever” (Savage Beauty Exhibition). #1: My mother loved a well-dressed party.