A friend said to me; You’ve been your son’s only parent for a long time. How old is he now? I replied; He is 33. She said; That’s like a marriage. Well, not really. He is my son and one of my 5 adult children, but unable to go out into the world on his own. His other parent stepped out of his life 13 years ago. And really what other choice did I have? He is my son and he requires aid.

I believe we have choices in this life… and I have tried to choose on the side of loving kindness (chesed) and with the thought in mind; what would I want if I were in the position of needing help in order to live my best life?  NateBowlingTrophy2013

Holidays have been difficult times for me. I miss the noise and bustle of my children when most of them were home. Yet I remember wishing for peace and quiet, which has only come since they’ve all grown up and left for their own, independent lives, away from me. Ironic. Beware what you wish for, it may come true and then you wonder; is this truly what I wanted after all?

And much to my chagrin, I once told a friend I couldn’t deal with too much of her “wonderful marriage talk” because I haven’t had that option. I am — have been alone for 21 years, a considerable length of time. Of course I haven’t been alone at all. I raised each of the 4 others until they turned 18 and stepped off the edge of the world of childhood and into the pool; of life as an adult. Only my Nato remains and he currently has a busier life than I do.

I now have the somewhat idle life I dreamed of through the years I had to be 2 loving, sane parents to my children. Those were the days I had to have unlimited patience and tolerance, and keep a “clean-enough” house and work outside of it to pay for necessities of living; clean underwear, auto insurance, mortgage payments, summer camp. Now I am my son’s calendar minder, appointment setter and chauffeur and not least; soother and/or interpreter of his temperamental outbursts.

Living can be messy, contradictory, full of anguish, a time/place when dreams are so far away as to never be obtainable, yet it is also so many other things; our one and only life to be clay in our hands, filled with the awe and wonder of nature at best and worst, and everything, anything, in-between. CardJuly31- 13

What I love most about living is the wonder, the unexpected joyful moments, the gratitude that drops on me like a soft gauzy curtain; not obscuring reality, but reminding me of the worth of unexpected joy especially in the midst of a life of service to another.

I choose service because the options are not affordable. Neither to “place” my son with strangers who may not be patient enough to allow him to be who he is, and hope they use gentleness to curb his extremes, nor… But there is nothing else.  I have looked high and low. I could send him to another state far away, depend on financial assistance, take out loans, bankrupt the rest of my life, and again hope that strangers will treat him with dignity and credit him with knowing what he wants, but none of these are options seem right.

And so, life is both the past which is already written, and the present which we live moment by moment, and the future which is ephemeral, a dream, a hoped for unreality perhaps awaiting us, perhaps not. Nato and I, are I think, engaged in each living the moments, occasionally laughing at each others jokes, and what I’ve come to realize; enriching our days with the presence of the other. And thankfully we each have our art, we have music, we have laughter…

I want to end with a poem by W.H. Auden, entitled September 1, 1939.

And no one exists alone;
Hunger allows no choice
To the citizen or the police;
We must love one another or die.
*       *       *       *       *       *
Picture of Nato with bowling trophy, and handmade card with saying by Bob Dylan; May your heart always be joyful, may your song always be sung.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009
I’ve been thinking a lot about 1-holidays, 2-giving gifts, 3-the world and its resources, and 4-earning money with my art, some of which is certainly useful and some non-utilitarian but done for art sake.
Okay, first; holidays by a round-about route. Starting with the word machetunum which is a Yiddish word meaning family related by marriage, like the in-laws of one of my children. So… apparently one of my machetunum has written in a public and condemnatory way about the use of “Happy Holiday” instead of the more specific “Happy Christmas.” It’s apparent this person is angry and feels this less specific terminology somehow detracts from Christmas.
Is there no room in this person’s heart for embracing the religous observance of non-Christians?
I put the emphasis on the word religious for a reason. One of the things I create with my commercial collages, are Christmas cards. In past years the sayings I’ve used speak of hope, love, joy, angels, and G-d. Did I mention love? My respect for religious experiences other than mine come from my core belief that holidays strengthen families, and therefore at root are about love. That is what has been lost in the above stupid discussion offered in a venue in which the stupidity is there for all to see. So that’s numbers 1 and 4 on my list at top of this post.
The reason I mentioned the earth’s resources and giving gifts, is because I see them tied together. We don’t have a newspaper subscription currently, it’s too expensive. If I could budget for it, I would have one for Nato, who loves being responsible for bringing it in the house, and looks things up without being able to read- pictures of sports, the comics, the weather, and especially pictures from new movies. I save the comics from Sunday papers for wrapping paper. Been doing it for years. I save wrapping paper that comes in the house for use in my collages, or for homemade gift cards. And to tell the truth, I’m known for pulling off the minimal bits of tape and then placing the twice-used comics into the paper recycling bin! Yes, I’m that goofy about re-use and recycling.
This year the cost of mailing things having grown beyond my budget I’ve already purchased three original works of local art from the gallery where I exhibit/sell my stuff, and have put two in the mail for under $2. each. Yeah. I’m sitting on a package to my cousin-by-marriage whose 86th (or so) birthday I wanted to celebrate, by sending him a new 1,000 piece puzzle. To mail it would cost over $7. It’s still sitting in the backseat of my car.
I love writing letters and receiving letters, the old fashioned way. Perhaps that accounts for my continuing desire to make cards that need to be mailed with a little stamp on the envelope. I am angry about the current postal prices. So the stack of things that normally would go in a box to each of my children, will be saved for when I see them each in person. Else I’ll have to allocate my earnings from a show just toward postage. Somehow that doesn’t seem right.
Photos on this post, from the top: painting of religious Jewish family lighting Chanukah candles, a platter of potato latkes (pancakes) traditionally eaten during Chanukah, and a Chanukah card. The video below of a child singing the Chanukah Song is dedicated to Rowan and my 5+.