I wanted to take today to acknowledge the Moms in the family.
This is my Momma. She lived for her family and her garden and had lots of adventures with my Dad; camping, traveling, helping people, and making friends. After Daddy passed, she continued her adventures for another 15 years.
Here is your Auntie Katie. She has had adventures in Europe, New York, at Burning Man, and here in Portland. She got to be a Momma herself and then opened her incredible book shop, Books with Pictures. She has built her life, and her community, as a place where everyone is welcome. She amazes me every day.
Here is your Momma, Olga. She started her adventures in Moscow, Russia, where she studied hard and became a doctor. She moved to the United States, then to California, and met your Daddy David. After tango-ing together they fell in love, got married, and had YOU. She continues her adventures as a fabulous teacher while getting ready for whatever-happens-next.
And then there is me. The oldest female in the family, Teddy Bear Picniker , and ready for the next adventure.
When Momma and Dad bought the house in Lompoc, the first thing to do was make it ready to live in. The back yard was all weeds and the house had been badly used. Everything needed fixing. But for them, this was part of the fun.
While they worked, they got to know their neighbors and the town. Momma joined the Alpha Club and Dad joined Elks. This was a lucky thing for the Elks, because they were just beginning to build a new lodge, and Dad helped with electrical work and general hauling. He designed and helped build the floats for parades. He even barbecued dinner for everyone!
My folks were natural joiners. They loved playing cards or going dancing with friends, and if those new folks liked camping, so much the better.
After they had lived in Lompoc for about ten years, they bought a fine fifth wheel trailer. Dad got an idea. “How about we go in the road long term?” Momma was against it. She couldn’t imagine leaving her garden or her friends. “Let’s try it for six months,”. Dad promised. “If you hate it, I won’t mention it again.”
So they rented the house to a friend, packed up, and headed off. By the end of the six months, momma was sold on the idea, and they traveled to every state they could drive to over the next eight years. Dad loved history and would visit every tiny museum and library. They went to church every Sunday at whatever church was closest. They made new friends all over the country.
Every now and then, they would swing by our house in Salinas, say hello, and help the kids with their b’nai mitzvah projects, then head off again. They had so much fun!
In September of 1988 they came by Salinas on their way home, and I took the day off to go with them to Point Lobos. It was the last day we got to spend together.
They were heading home when dad had a stroke and died in his sleep. We were all shocked, as he had seemed in very good health. The family got the trailer moved back to Lompoc, and Momma lived in it for a year, right in the back yard. Even after taking care of the many details required of new widows, she wasn’t quite ready to take up regular life yet, having lost “the most fun part” of her life after 51 years.
But one day when we were visiting, she wiped her eyes after yet another cry, and said, “If Lowell saw me sitting here, crying like a baby, he’d come down and kick my butt.” Sometimes, when I am sad, I say the same thing. Thanks, Dad.
We got to walk through the neighborhood yesterday, on our way to Whole Foods for groceries. Our last two days of bright sunshine have encouraged all the flowers!
The bees are going nuts, too, though they were skittish and wouldn’t let me get close enough to take their pictures. However, this solid brick of azalea blooms was very patient.
Up on Ankeny Street in a poetry box, I found this very personal poem. If I had seen it on Mother’s Day, it would have felt cruel and bruising. But today I am stronger and can see it as beautiful.
Feelings are such delicate balances between joy and melancholy, sweet memories and frightful hauntings, it is a miracle we maintain as well as we do. I only really appreciate joy when I have pulled out of a dark hole and can sigh with relief at my freedom.