I had a lonely childhood. Had to fill time, usually with my 3 year younger sister without parental help. We would walk very long distances; to the library, to the pool in summer, or the ice skating rink in winter. Then I made a group of friends and we regularly rode 2 buses downtown and went to free kids movies at a museum. The Pink Panther is the only one I recall. My mother was like a background figure throughout my childhood with a few exceptions.

At age 13 I began menstruating. Upon telling her I was bleeding [and shocked at that first occurrence] she promptly slapped me across the face, welcomed me to womanly adulthood, and went back to her cigarette burning in the ashtray, and the telephone receiver sitting on the kitchen counter where her best friend waited to resume their phone conversation.  KindCard-12c

I tried out a few curse words around the same time; and had to carry the 1,000+ page dictionary upstairs or downstairs [it was always opposite where my mother was castigating me], to read aloud the word and definition. I’m unsure if I remember my mouth being soaped. I also know I stole a few candy bars from a small store in our neighborhood, and was found out and my mother made me go and apologize.

A bit later I was made to sit at the kitchen table while my mother drew diagrams of a woman’s reproductive organs– her means of teaching me about sex. The first time I actually had sex I had no clue what was meant by the statement; don’t worry, I used protection. So much for my education.

I quit college without talking to my parents. How could they possibly understand? They never really got involved in my present/future. My mother had taken my to a high school guidance counselor for tests and then to explain what I would be good at in adulthood. My father told me I should take courses to get a teaching degree, as a fall-back to help my husband, in case he needed me to work.

Both the vocational testing, and teaching degree fulfilled the “womanly” accepted role of nurturing others, prevalent thinking at the time I was growing up. Yet I filledCard 9-2015-5b.jpg my own emotional needs as a volunteer worker with children with disabilities beginning in my early teens onward. A college course stating psychiatric language placing people with low levels of cognition [due to disabilities] in “idiot” and “moron” boxes was the reason I left college. Had these superior people no humanity, I wondered? 

It seemed obvious to me that I was alone in the world. Decisions were on my shoulders alone. And I couldn’t find my way through a dense forest of expectations and lack of help finding alternatives.

What I DID decide/ know was that if I ever became a mother, I would really, truly love my children, talk to them about anything and everything, not judge them, not put impossible demands on them of what I wanted for them, instead helping them find what they wanted, what they cared about, where each thought they might excel.

Today’s post came about after reading a comment on someone else’s post. Here’s an excerpt of the comment by Heather; “I want to say that this idea that love can come from the inside is a great one! But, it does not replace the very real pain of having a mother who doesn’t love you. And, worse, living in a society that says all mothers love you, you just don’t realize it! ”

Stay tuned for the next chapter in this story.

Cards here; created by me. First saying; “No act of kindness, no matter how small is every wasted.” by Aesop. Second saying; We’re every one of us imperfect. We’re every one of us, in some way, wounded animals. The most important thing is to take care of each other. ” by Barry Lopez.

 

 

 

“The greatest challenge of the day is: how to bring about a revolution of the heart. A revolution that must start with each one of us.” Quote by Dorothy Day. nate's heart

If you are unfamiliar with the show “On being” you can find it online at OnBeing.org. On their blog the executive editor, Trent Gilliss imparts an important message for him; live “your love out loud even when it seems you have nothing to offer.” The show which aired May 28th this year is about Jean Vanier and called The Wisdom of Tenderness. Why am I telling you this?

I speak here often about living with a person with significant disabilities. One who is happy, melancholy, satisfied with his life in a moment, and also dissatisfied with his life in a moment. He wants more from life, and as much as I’ve put into creating and making this a reality, the walls I’ve encountered have been high and wide, daunting and discouraging. One learns to get up, dust oneself off, and try again. It is tiring though. IMG_0011

What ever happened to compassion for folks who need more help in their lives? I feel estranged sometimes from many fellow human beings who make little effort to understand our lives- my son’s and mine, and our forging ahead to create meaning and substance, liveliness and love in our lives, not necessarily with each other, but for each of us. For my son who wants to live in community, instead of with his mother. And for myself. I want to cease fighting for recognition of the right to fair and humane treatment of my son and others with disabilities, because others have recognized their worth. I want to have time to create my art, laugh with my friends, grow my own spirit and soul as aging puts an imprint on me that is indelible.

“The sense of family comes from the commitment we make to each other; to work through the hard times so we can enjoy the good ones. It comes from the love that binds us. That’s what makes us a family.” Two current stories in the news; first meet Zach Wahls [of the quote above] from Iowa and a college student, Eagle scout, outstanding speaker, motivated citizen and proud son and brother, proud of his family.

What I can’t give you in my writing is the intensity and the emphasis he places on words and phrases when he speaks. You need to see, hear him speak. This young man is amazing; self-possessed, intelligent, articulate, caring, a mensch among men.

The second story of interest to me is about college graduate Marina Keegan who died recently in a car accident and only a few days after graduating college. She had a writing career both behind and in front of her. In an essay; The Opposite of Loneliness, she refers to the comradeship in college life; “…it’s just this feeling that there are people, an abundance of people, who are in this together. Who are on your team.”

Keegan’s voice reminds me of poet Mary Oliver who wrote; Song of the Builders.

On a summer morning I sat down on a hillside to think about God –
a worthy pastime. Near me, I saw a single cricket; it was moving the grains of the hillside
this way and that way. How great was its energy, how humble its effort. Let us hope
it will always be like this, each of us going on in our inexplicable ways building the universe.

I’m attempting-here- to weave together family with living our lives with purpose and play, with loving-kindness and dignity. I am proud of the family I co-created; my children, their choices, their partners, and their children. The family I was born into, I’m outside looking in.

I believe a family, like a weaving, depends on every thread woven into it. Every part to do its part. To uphold all the other elements while being what it is; a unique thread, a necessary thread for the weaving to be whole, satisfying, and strong. In the card I created, above, a collage is only as worthy as all its elements. Here there are; painting by my middle son, a fabulous quote by Mary Oliver [Tell me what it is you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?]. A postage stamp sent by an artist friend I met at a craft show, and a doodle I drew that seemed to embody; wild, crazy, and precious? Maybe. Most of all- the elements must work together to present harmony, cohesiveness, a joining- some would call the sum total of these; LOVE. Hmm… Below, the song played over and over by the guys on the other side of my wall at college.


I didn’t intend to weigh down this post with 2 videos, but they both seem necessary to help me in my quest to state how important family is to me- how much I need it- how much we all need/want/desire to be part of a tribe. May the force be with us, in our quest!

It’s June, so I’m making Father’s Day cards. Had a funny little conversation with someone at the market last week. She looked over my booth then casually asked; When is Father’s day?
I answered; I don’t know, I’m divorced, my kids are grown, so I’m out of the loop on that.
She looked surprised and rapidly said; But you have a father.
My reply; He’s been gone a long time. (As if he went to the corner store for something and kept going.)
In actuality my father died 31 years ago, in his 50’s. Too young. And I still miss him, especially for the man he was becoming in his last years. He’d had a narrowly focused life, which I believe he mostly enjoyed. I say mostly because he worked such long hours, but he dealt with people, so I know there was camaraderie, jokes, and some light-heartedness while working. He was unexpectedly divorced, lost his job, lived in a dinky apartment for awhile, lost 2 of his children for a bit… Yet he found work and found within himself a desire to make sense of me- the hippie child who didn’t conform. He began talking to people he met, especially anyone in special education- to better understand my life work. And thankfully he relayed this to me, so that I have a wonderful memory to hold dear to my heart.
Speaking of someone dying too young, a girl named Alice, 15, who has Hodgkin’s lymphoma started a blog. “The cancer is now spreading through my body,” she wrote. “It’s a pain because there’s so much stuff that I still want to do.” What really got to me was tucked in at the end of her first post on the blog. “…I can’t figure out how to add a list. I think I’m going to have to ask mum to do it because she can do anything.” I’m glad she said that. It will be a tangible reminder for her mum. You know, we don’t need Father’s Day or Mother’s Day if we can express our love and gratitude when we feel these emotions.
If you’re moved to do something positive, go to website below. Write a note. Spend a few minutes brightening a child’s LIFE. http://www.postpals.co.uk/
P.S. To read the article about Alice, go to Salon.com; A teen’s bucket list goes viral.
Cards pictured this page, by me, copyrighted, do not steal my designs. Go to my website if you’re interested in purchasing cards I create.