Friday, June 21, 2013
Most anyone who knows me knows that my relationship with my mom was one of many, many facets. Facets that shimmer in the warming light of noon at midsummer, and those that are perpetually turned toward the darkness of shadow, never sparkling, yet holding the promise.
Of all of the relationships in my life, this one with my mom has been my biggest challenge. And mightiest teacher. And lets be clear, I have a spouse of 35-years, so we're not talkin' anything lightweight.
I was two years old when my folks adopted me. I was a willful toddler that my mom was set on indoctrinating. She might say mothering, but I don't. And I convey that with a loving smile. She would likely call it a smirk.
Rita frequently shared the story of my early days with her and my daddy. They hadn't had me long when one day she put me down for a nap. She walked down the street to visit a friend for afternoon tea, which was a routine of hers. When her friend asked, "Where's Rosemary?"she was like, oh my god, I forgot all about her. She would laugh at the retelling, and so would I. There was darkness in the humor, and if you know me at all, you know that dark humor tends to be a favored flavor.
In more recent years she moved to New York state, from Delaware, where I (for the most part) grew up. I had searched for condos (as I had in the past) in Connecticut, where I live, but she settled on New York. When folks would ask her why she moved to New York she would consistently reply, "Because I have family there." Now bear in mind that I'm an only child. The first time or two I heard this response it sliced into me. Yet over the years I learned to not take it personal, to accept Little Rita for who and what she was, and not try to fit her into any mold of my own making. All the same, less than a year ago we were visiting one of her docs, who knew I was her only child, who consistently engaged her in conversation about living alone at her age, about assisted living, about moving closer to me. He asked her why she had moved to New York state. When she responded with her patent reply he shot me a look of such wonder, compassion and empathy, that I felt the old scar stir. It took such strength of will in that moment not to collapse into a puddle of tears.
Don't get me wrong. She loved me. And I know she loved me.
I've often called her my nemesis. Mostly to myself, but also to a few special folks who not only have a feel for our relationship, but also for the truest meaning of this all-too-often misunderstood word. As my nemesis, she was a formidable challenger, a masterful teacher, one who matured to wise elder with infinite Wisdom to share, whether she knew it or not.
We live in times that prefer to demonize the darkness, to shun the shadows. We're taught to run away from them, fear them, hide from them, lash out at them … but I say go into them, for there you will discover Love in its truest form.