My recently published essay on seeking another path to internal and global peace.
I went to see my mother early this morning. She was sitting in a chair, all dressed up, trying to figure out which of three scarves to wear to adorn her outfit. She thanked me for being such a good daughter, for helping her out so much. I helped her stand, a challenge due to her creeping paralysis. Once she was upright, I pulled her close and wrapped my arms around her, taking in her scent. Her frail body leaned against mine, surrendering control.
“Thank YOU, Mom. For staying around. I know this is tough on you, still being here, but I’m glad you’re with me.”
Then I woke up. And remembered that it’s Mothers’ Day.
I didn’t go see my mom this morning; she had come to see me.
Happy Mothers’ Day, Mom. I love and miss you so…
This amazing woman conspired with Elizabeth Cady Stanton to organize the first Women’s Rights Convention that kicked off the women’s suffrage campaign. In this 95th anniversary year of the 19th amendment, get to know the women who risked everything for their right to participate in the democratic process. Click to read the article I wrote for Ms. Magazine about Lucretia Mott. And give thanks.
My parents were similar in one way: They both wanted to be “in charge.” From my perspective as an adolescent, they should have had one date and then said to each other, “It was so nice to meet you. I hope you have a wonderful life.” Instead, they were married for over 60 years, til death did them part.
After much reflection, I realize that my book, They Live On: Saying Goodbye to Mom and Dad, is a love story about my parents’ final days – a love story with the all-too-common theme that “you don’t know what you have ’til it’s gone.” It wasn’t until my parents died that I realized that I had never before understood their relationship and most likely had discounted it unfairly.
Here is the story of their last anniversary together, on January 24, as relayed in my book.
She is so sick that he does not recognize her. My sister and I wheel him up to her bedside and still he does not realize that this is his wife.
“Who is this?” he asks. “Where’s the other one?”
My sister and I inappropriately start laughing, out of sheer exhaustion. We quickly gain control and convince Dad that this shell is his wife. He becomes sorrowful and tender. He holds her hand, kisses her, shouts “I love you” in her ear, and tries to feed her. He tenderly touches her face and neck, telling her that she’s beautiful.
“How are you feeling, dear? OK?” He is so used to her being so strong and expects her bravado to re-emerge. She is comatose.
It is their 63rd wedding anniversary.
We sit for a while until he reluctantly agrees to leave, only after being promised he can soon return. She shows no acknowledgement, save for the tear in the corner of her eye, which he dabs with a tissue.
Later that night, I stop to see him and find him crying in bed. Without prompting, he explains, “I didn’t know it was her. I couldn’t believe it.” I tell him I understand.
“I love her,” he says. “I really love that girl.”
I start to tell him more specifics about her medical status, but he stops me. “Don’t,” he says and keeps repeating, “Poor girl. Poor girl.” He knows his 88-year-old “girl” is leaving him, but he doesn’t want to know the gory details.
Aches and pains
On this first day of a new year, I fast. For 24 hours, I am only ingesting water and green tea.
There are documented health benefits of fasting. It flushes out toxins that have accumulated in our bodies and jumpstarts our metabolism for potential weight loss.
But today I fast in remembrance and in solidarity.
In remembrance of those who do not have enough to eat on a daily basis, for whom fasting is not a choice. The pangs of hunger I feel are nothing compared to what starving children feel. Missing three meals today won’t kill me, but it can kill a baby and, in fact, does every day, even in this Land of Plenty.
In solidarity with those for whom refusing to eat is a form of civil disobedience. Alice Paul, Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., Cesar Chavez, and Nelson Mandela are among those who chose to sacrifice their own comfort and well-being for a cause bigger than they: Liberation from oppression.
Today, I fast. For a few hours, I will be hungry. More significantly, I will feel a connection to those who need our intervention to survive and to those who were determined to claim social justice as their birthright.
Thank you to those who followed my blog in 2014. I appreciate the shares, the likes, the comments, and the silent observations. Journal Stories is based on the premise that the most personal of our stories is the most universal. I hope you find your own stories in my writing and that my words afford you the opportunity for self-reflection. Because thoughtful people can turn things around on a local and global level.
Happy New Year! See you here in 2015.