Friends, I have had a very quiet and peaceful holiday season. Now that Christmas is over, I've begun to have dreams of my parents again. They were silent leading up to the holiday. I am sure they wanted me to have time to sort some more things out, figure out some ideas for future holidays. As I wrote a few days ago, my mind was blank and my heart was empty. I wished my parents had come to me as they often do, in dreams. I wouldn't mind their input! My mom was shy and my dad outgoing, so I'd get ideas from both personalities.
I realized that by cooking the Feast of the Seven Fishes, I was honoring not only my father, but my mother as well. She cooked as well as my Nonni and Ro-Ro. I grew up eating the most delicious food. In that way I was certainly spoiled by her. Funny, as an adult I love the magical realism in Mexican literature, "Like Water for Chocolate," a movie that espouses food contains the emotions of the one cooking it. Relating that to my life, perhaps this was a way my mom showed us her love. Of course, I'd love to know THE answer, but I'd like to think I already know it. As I unfold, I am seeing more and more of my mother in me. I am recognizing traits that I'd never seen in her or me. I feel like now that my mom's in her most pure form in the afterlife, I can see her true self more clearly. And it is much easier to see these things in myself, unobstructed by alcoholism, regret, jealousy, and diminished self-worth. With the clouds clearing, I love many things about my mom; the things my father loved about her. Her intelligence, her shyness, her desire to please people, her funny --though brief and far apart-- spurts of hilarity, her desire to look pretty, her desire to entertain and make people happy. What sticks out the most to me is shyness: both hers and my own! It never occurred to me that she was a shy person. It has taken me many conversations with people who knew her and the artifacts from our house to divine her shyness. As far as my own goes, it's taken me my whole life to figure this out. And to accept it, to allow it to be my truth. All that partying I did was an attempt to compensate for something I felt was a weakness. Perhaps it was the same with my mother. I do not feel "less than" because I am shy. It is refreshing not to feel the weight of my costume!
I am a self-admitted fashion addict. I love to dress well and take pride in my appearance. I always thought it was to keep people from finding fault with me--I was not a fashionable kid, (but it was the late 60's early 70's!) I was very short (that hasn't changed) and had glasses (still do, but contact lenses, too). And lastly, I have my mother's blue eyes and love to play with make up.
It has taken me almost four years to sift through the wreckage of her late life and then her death, to find where she and I met; to see where I was like her. I love my mom's spirit, her heart; I was unable to see those things during the last years of her life. I craved her affection as a child and never got it. That was because she never learned how to give and receive affection by her family. Now I see it, I feel it. She felt trapped by getting pregnant; she had to leave college and then marry my father--I'll never know if she wanted to get married (although my father was crazy in love with her) and have kids.
I see who my dad fell in love with. This is a great gift. One of the greatest gifts I could receive.
As you can see, this time of year I begin to wax poetic, even more than usual. But through writing, I am finding myself, finally seeing my mother clearly, and loving my dad even more. And yet, they're not here.
And so, it is time to revive memories and savor them. Think about what to include as 2012 approaches. Say goodbye and close the door on experiences and people that have served their purposes. Embrace old friends and welcome new ones. Run toward the sunshine whenever possible.
My resolution: to laugh more. It's been too long!
Happy New Year, 2012.
- In this blog I have created a haven, a place I allow my deepest emotions to go and sit. I can write easily about what I’ve accomplished. This biography I can recite in my sleep. But I’ve always written poetry and in diaries since I was a teenager. I continued to write poetry in my journals, and not until 2006 did I show them to anyone. I generally write every day, at the present in memoir form. I haven’t written poetry since my mother died in January, 2007. I didn’t write at all between her death and the death of my father three years later in January, 2010. On my father’s birthday in March, 2010, I began this blog, to honor my father and to help me grieve. But I also desperately needed to write, and this stream of conscious style emerged. I needed to find my organic voice.