Monday, May 9, 2011
Death, Motherhood, Family and Adrienne Rich
For Mother's Day, I am reprising a video I did in 2002 to the memory of my mother who died in 1997. It is called The Question Box?, The Moment of Death 4 minutes 20 seconds.
The Question Box? looks at the moment of death from the eyes of a daughter witnessing her 89 year old mother's passing. Why do we have to die? What happens to memories? Is there peace in acceptance? Like Mom, I am afraid of Death. I am seeking reasons for bodily annihilation with the hope of essential redemption. She was a daring car driver, charging through Vermont and NJ snow, driving nursing school friends down to Florida for a vacation trip through the white stuff.
Yesterday on Mother's Day I was treated to brunch at "Sun in My Belly" restaurant in Atlanta by my dear friend Ruth Schowalter http://coffeewithhallelujah.blogspot.com/2011/05/goddess-is-shaktiwomen-have-shakti.html and her husband Tony. I was her surrogate Mom for the morning. I think I played the part well. In the afternoon I met with Ruth again, and friend-artist- writer Harriette Grisson in Robey Tapp's backyard garden where we created an altar extraordinaire from a throne-like brick barbecue. We moved, danced, placed objects on the altar and burned our offerings to the little statue of Our Lady of Guadaloupe who was a stand-in for the spirit mother, whoever she may be. For me she was the essence of my Mom and all mothers, full of love, compassion, power and healing balance. For others she was the mom we wish our moms to be, and the creative juice of the universe. In the evening I had a sumptuous dinner cooked by my son at his and my daughter-in-law Linda's home. We drank beer and wine, played with Jack and Rosie the grandkids in the sandbox on the front lawn, and lounged in the glorious weather. This evening was shared with Linda's mom, Sheila and her husband Bill Sharp. I am truly blessed with such friends, artists and children. Wish you were here, Mom.
This morning I began reading Adrienne Rich's feminist classic, Of Woman Born, 1976, subtitled Motherhood as Experience and Institution. Thank God for Adrienne's mind and her writing skill. This book will be a pleasure of real energetic experience and truth-telling within the bigger forces of "custom, tradition, money, and institutions behind it...and the pressures on women to validate themselves in maternity." Much has changed for women and motherhood since the 70's, but little has also changed. Motherhood embedded in the social politics of 2011 still feels like a greeting card. We are honored (thank you) for our sacrifice and loving care of children, but we could also be in danger of losing social safety nets for poor mothers and children under Tea Party pressures to cut government services. In Sunday Mass yesterday, the officiating priest asked the mothers of the congregation to stand for a blessing. It felt creepy not to ask all adult women to stand and be honored. We women all had mothers and have surely nurtured children along our way, whether we actually carried an infant in our bodies. We are teachers and role models to nephews, nieces, cousins, and friends' kids. Hurrah for us!