Monday, December 13, 2010
In many ways, I was prepared for my Mother's death, however somethings are difficult to digest.. Logic tells us this is a natural cycle of life. Logic tells us to let go and move on. Logic and emotions are two different entities. Logic prepares us to deal with the inevitable, gives the incentive to get the dirty yet important jobs done, and allows one to forage on. On the other hand, emotion reminds us to remember, feel, dream, admire, miss and be grateful.
I was blessed to have a Mother who was ahead of her time: not afraid of being different, she was open minded, focused, strong willed and strong bodied. She earned her Masters degree in Social Work from UC Berkeley in the late 1940's, pursued a career, got married, took off time to have a raise 3 children (translation: Boy Scout/Brownie leader, PTA president, school volunteer) then want back to work when I, the youngest, was ready for 1st grade.
She had her share of ups and downs, but rarely complained and put her energy into her work and family. She believed in empowering her children to follow their dreams and to be what we wanted to be NOT what She wanted us to be. Thus ALL of our crazy adventures were emotionally supported and if possible she attended our events and performances. Our endeavors were meaningful to her and she spoke proudly of our wildly different accolades as if we were Harvard graduates. When I was a musician, she came to my concerts, when I was a bodybuilder she toted photos of my poses and even agreed to flex her guns for the camera. When I bike raced, she always asked about my endeavors and if possible would have spectated if she could. She did the same for my brother and sister.
It gave her great pleasure to be active in our lives yet live a life of her own as well.
I had 50 years with her in my life, and as much as I thought I would not be like her, I find myself very much like her and just have to laugh..as much as you try to not be your Mom, it just seeps in and "Wallah~ YOU ARE HER..."
2010 was a tough but bonding year for us. As time was elapsing we had role reversals. I found myself more and more having to be "the mother". I needed to make tough but important decisions regarding her health and well-being. I had to attend to her failing mind and body. I had to do things I NEVER envisioned doing. I had to suck it up and just do it. It was not easy but I'm glad I could. After all, she did the same for me. She was stubborn and confused but always trusted me. I was lucky for that.
My mother was a fabulous listener and she taught me that, and I am forever grateful. However she was very private with her own affairs. She and my father were married for nearly 30 years before they divorced. Even though it was a very civil parting , she kept her feelings inside. As progressive as she was, she was "old school" in many ways.
Why am I sharing all this? Besides all the legal paperwork and paper shuffling that incurs when one dies, then there is the endless task of going through their belongings. Fortunately I had started this project before I left for Belgium so it was not as overwhelming as it could have been. Nonetheless, it is a painfully slow project as 1) going through one's mother's personal affects seems so wrong and 2) it is virtually impossible to not dissect everything and have memories/stories that accompany each item.
Fortunately my sister helped with this. In her unearthing of photos and every childhood birthday card, she found a mysterious old shoe box circa 1940's. Inside this shoe box was stack of letters/cards, some photos, a few old postcards and a pages of a desk calender. Hmmm, why hadn't we ever seen this before? Many of these letters were banded together by light blue ribbon that was tied into a neat bow. They were all handwritten, addressed to Helen Dempsey and written by my father, Manoucher. Both were in their early 20's, and going to school and Cal Berkeley. My father was a Persian immigrant living at the International House embarking on his adventure to start a new life in America.
Wow, reading through this letter exchange was an overwhelming journey of voyeurism of my parents relationship. They were kids! They were in love! They wrote daily. (Remember in those days phone calls were expensive) Since I could only read my from my father's perspective, at times I had to guess what my Mother wrote to him. Nothing changes. She, like most women, addressed all the "regular' issues and concerns, and he being a normal "guy" and a foreign one, who did not have a consistent father figure at home, wrote all the "normal" guy responses. Awwww some things just don't change.
shortly after these letters started, my father enlisted in the Army. As I was told by him he did so to get a better command of the English language. As a foreigner with English being a second language he did not feel confident to enroll in higher level classes necessary for his degree in Political Science. Apparently my Mother was not too happy about this. The letters were written and sent daily. The dialog continued and obviously the relationship evolved.
I read most of these on the plane trip coming back home to Belgium. I'm sure I was the only one with a 1940's shoebox on her lap, reading through a stack of old "airmail". while perusing through the other contents in this "pandora" box, I came across a few other noteworthy saved writings. Scribbled on one of the calender day entries was "he asked me to marry him"..Reading that made me smile and secondly the letter to both her and my father from HER father titled "Honeymoon" where he gives his blessings and asked my father to always take care of my mother. That one was beautiful. Lastly, One from my Father's mother (translated into English) with a note in Farsi on the other side, welcoming her into the family. Oh, such a time gone by.
Reading these was not only a glimpse of monumental events in my mother's life but a reminder of how fast time elapses. I sat there reading these as I am twice the age now that they were when these events occurred. How can this be? It seems like only yesterday I was 25. I'm sure that never changes. Really this is just another reminder how fast it all goes by and to appreciate the moment, the people and goodness of this fleeting existence. However, no letters will be discovered for me. Just emails and old blog postings. That is however, if these things still exist....
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
2010 has been a noteworthy year indeed.
Having Courage, Believing in Heart, Breathing Faith, Gaining Patience, Depending on Perseverance, Opening up, Letting go, Displaying Vulnerability, Breaking Ties, Welcoming New, Losing Old, Broadening Scope, Freeing up, Changing Priorities, Depending on Strength, Finding Love, Giving Love, Taking Care, Listening Loudly, Speaking Thoughtfully, Sharing Happiness, Laughing Daily, Giving Generously, Receiving Graciously and most importantly Appreciating Every Day for what it is and WHO is there.
I Lost the one who brought me into this world as I gained the ones who now make life all so worth while. Such a wonderful paradox.
2010 What a year you have been!