Today, it is said, is the last day of the current Mayan calender, and the beginning of a new age. To honor this monumental event this week, I got sick with the flu which required that I spend the week in bed, keeping myself busy with my first avocation, working with silk threads to crochet and finish the neckline of my newly knitted and shiboried sweater, reading three novels, and thirdly, seeking inspiration from philosophical writers. Today being the 28th of October, it was fitting that I came across the following quote by Micheal Brown (The Presence Portal) that pierced my heart and leads me to write today’s post and dedicate it to my mother.
“When we hold onto the past, those that would free us, appear as devils. When we open our hearts, the very same transmissions become hymns deliberately sung to awaken our souls from a long, cold, and lonely winter.
And the hymn tells us, ‘Little Darling, everything is alright'”
On the eve of my dear daughter’s wedding, I promised her that I would write the long, longed-for letter of forgiveness to my mother that I was seeking to find in my heart as soon as I returned home. Since that time, I have been searching for words that expressed the truth about the gifts mom had given me and not words of recrimination or perceived victimization. Finally, stumbling upon the above quote, both mine and my daughter’s wishes came true and I found a way through this emotional block and burden that I have been carrying so long. There is a foreshadowing of the story and letter I am about to tell in the first sentence, when I stated that I kept myself happily occupied for 4 days in bed with crocheting, reading and studying philosophy. You see, these were the gifts that my mother gave me, how she interpreted the soul of a young girl and they way she tried to nourish a curious and lively spirit of a girl that she was terrified would become a woman some day, and hence, face the trials and tribulations of what it historically and traditionally meant to be female. It was precisely because my mother was forced into a premature marriage at the age of 16, that my sister and I became fierce defenders of the women’s liberation movement of the 60’s and obsessively independent to boot.
Mom, don’t take this personally, but if Susie and I could have hit each other over the head with the “not the mama!” pan, we would have. Never in this lifetime, could we have dreamed of living through the hardship that you endured, having had 4 children by the age of 21, and having your innocence stolen from you at such a young age. But in spite of having been ripped out of high school, from your friends and your future as a college grad like your brothers, you began giving me the chance you never had, even if furtively, by bringing me home books every week to read, so that by the age of 13, I was reading Tolstoy, or at least tried….do you remember?
I think I was about 8 years old when you taught me how to knit a Barbie Doll skirt with very fine thread and needles. You taught me how to sew my first dress at the age of 10, and it came out perfect my first attempt at sewing. How proud I was of that accomplishment. For years, I told my women friends, how my mother had this amazing, hands-off approach to teaching me how to sew…the way you said, “now read this pattern very carefully, and if you have any questions, just ask.” You proceeded to show me the basics, like how to sew a straight line, thread the machine, put in the zipper and inset the sleeves, but that was all. Your trust that I could figure it out on my own, gave me so much confidence. Confidence that lead me to mostly independently learn how to use the spinning wheel, the loom, the knitting machine, natural dyeing, ceramics, and all the arts that I have pursued for so many years.
Did you ever know how in awe of you I was when I saw you reading all those hefty philosophy books, like Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Thomas Mann, studying the Dead Sea Scrolls and the bible like it was an anthropology project? Knowing that you didn’t even finish high school. And my sitting in your bedroom in my pre-pubescence, having those philosophical talks….did my precociousness scare you? Were you afraid that it would be unappreciated the way yours was? Oh, how I cherished those pre-bedtime talks that suddenly ended on the dawn of my womanhood. To this day, I still don’t understand the depth of your fear that you had to reject me because I was becoming an independent woman, and I focused all these years on your fear demons, rather than the on the hymn of deep and abiding compassion that they were trying to awaken in me. But one thing I know for sure. That is, that it is the search all these years for the promise of a friendship with you that has lead me to pursue my textiles and friendships with other women, and understand the true value of these moments together. Liberated or not, women sharing textiles is a rite of passage, is a way of being together, and a way to honor each other.
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