Monday, August 28, 2006

The 28th of August

Today is my birthday. I have not liked birthdays for a very long time. They are a painful reminder of happier times when I was nourished and loved by my mother who died when I was 21 years old. The thing about my mother that strikes me as so tragic, is that for 21 years I took her for granted. Suddenly she was gone. Oh, she'd been sick, but when you are 21 years old, the death of a loved one is not a reality that you readily understand. At least, I did not. She has been gone for 38 years now. I turned 60 today.

I have outlived my mother by 18 years. She was relatively young when she died at 42. My mother had her hands full with my father, who was diabetic and given to terrible mood swings. She deserved better. She was a sweet woman who did not speak badly about anyone, ever. I never heard a cuss word come out of her mouth. The worst I ever saw her, was invariably, when my sisters and I would be laughing late at night and would wake her, and she would come frowning into the room we were in saying, "this has got to stop!" As soon as we saw her coming, we would mock her, cause we knew what she was going to say, so we said it right along with her. "This had got to stop!"

My sisters and I would always say that Mom had eyes like a hawk when she would see something we were trying to hide. She had ears like a hawk if we were trying to do something we did not want her to hear. And if there happened to be something we were up to that involved the sense of smell, well, you guessed it, she had a nose like a hawk.

My faith in God was shaken the months my mother was sick, dying of cancer. If ever there was someone who did not deserve to die a painful death, it was my mother. And yet she suffered far beyond what anyone should suffer. When she died I was somehow comforted in the thought of heaven, a place where she would not have to suffer anymore, but the devastation of losing her was far beyond comforting thoughts.

Being a mother myself, I wondered today, if my own daughters take me for granted. I wondered if I should die, would their lives be impacted as much as my own, and also my sisters' and brother's lives were also impacted by our mother's suffering and dying. I don't know. But I am finding this day, this day that I have turned the milestone age of 60, that I am thinking deep thoughts. Maybe they are dark thoughts as opposed to my usual cheery and positive outlook. I don't show that side of me very often, but maybe it will have a cathartic influence on my mood today, if I get it out and roll it around here where I can say whatever I have a mind to.


Blogger Robin said...

Happy birthday, Karen.


4:14 AM  
Blogger Dianne said...

I hope you had a happy birthday.

Reading your thoughts of regret brought one of my fave poems to mind and i'd like to share it with you. I know your mother didn't take her own life as in the poem but its all about who we are now as a result of our past experiences...


Elsa Joy Bailey

If it weren't for my beautiful sad mother
drinking a beaker of cold cyanide when I was three,
I wouldn't have learned
she could both love and abandon me
in one hot severe breath.
Nor would I have grown flowers in my heart
for people who urgently want to die.

If I had not broken my leg in a wild fall,
I wouldn't have learned that stark physical pain
is, to my great surprise, not permanent.

If I hadn't fallen in love with someone
who didn't love me,
I would never have realized that unrequited love
is still an ecstatic dance of the heart.

If I hadn't encountered praise and blame,
success and failure, heat and cold, darkness and light,
blows and kisses, pain and bliss,
never would I have found out that through it all
there is a Spirit within me
which remains unceasingly alive and loving.

If I hadn't received the gift of knowing you,
I would not have come to realise
that our stories are different in details,
but never in essence.

If I hadn't lived through an era of hurting
I would never have met the miracle
of being fed with kindness by a friend.

If I hadn't discovered that you and I
are two threads in the same vast cloth,
I would have remained forever lost and imprisoned
in my separate universe.

If I hadn't seen both good and evil
occupying space in the same event,
I would never have met the hand of humour
painting over these polarities
with new clarity and light.

If I hadn't wept a thousand tears
over the loss of a beloved,
I would never have been driven inward
to find the eternal companion,
my Soul.

If I had not witnessed cruelty
and man's inhumanity to man,
I would not have been forced to look
beneath the ugliness of fear,
and encounter the common Heart
that lies beneath it.

If I hadn't encountered our myriad differences,
I would never have discovered that you and I
are not two,
but infinite sparks of love ever arising
from one indestructible Flame.

And if I hadn't felt abandoned and heartsick,
I would never have heard the wordless whisper
of an abiding, unseeable Friend,
who translated the feeling of alone
into All One.

Take care

Dianne :-)

12:27 PM  

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