Friday, November 28, 2008

My son, out in the world.

My son is celebrating his first Thanksgiving away from home, in another country. He has taken his place in the world. He made his own travel arrangements. He chose his wardrobe and packed his suitcase. It was up to him to make sure he remembered toothbrush, credit card and hostess gift. "He arrived," teletexted my cousin, “and looks great and is nice and smart and sweet.”

That’s what a Mother wants to hear.

She also wants to hear that he shooed the hostess away from washing dishes and took over the chore himself. (Hmmm..he never shooed me away from the dishes! Maybe I have this to look forward to.)

This is what all those early years were about. All the work you do with your children, about making beds and picking up their clothes and table manners and hostess gifts… All the teaching, cajoling and punishing, which makes you tired of the sound of your own voice…really does kick in at a certain age.

This is the person you were dreaming of. A warm, considerate, compassionate, grateful, joyful person., taking his place, out in the world., creating a satisfying, lovely, inspiring life for himself and others.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Will you regret it later on?

One August during a curiously stressful visit by my Mother, it was time to decide whether I’d take the children to her house for Christmas—a 12 hour trip in two airplanes. Experience had taught me that reservations had to be made then, or it would be all sold out.

I wasn’t ready to make this decision just yet because I was feeling bruised by her negative manner.

Dr. Janny to the rescue. She's my best friend since junior high school who, today, is a wonderful psychiatrist.

“What I always ask my patients is," she said, “If you don’t go, is this something you might regret in the future?”

“If it is something you would regret in the future, then don’t even think twice about it and do it. But if it is something you won’t regret, then you’re off the hook.”

I immediately made the reservations.

It turned out to be my Mother’s last Christmas.

Now that she is gone, it is clear to me that her stressful visit in August was because she was not feeling well; in fact, she was dying. But we didn’t know it yet. She never said, “I don’t feel well,” she just acted grouchy and difficult. She acted the same way on her visit to my brother, puzzling him at the time as well.

Now we look back and understand everything – and have no regrets. We take comfort and rejoice in the memories.

Monday, November 3, 2008

All gemutlich, all the time.

As I get older, life seems to get "scarier." My mortality is ever present in a new way. I have experienced pain, loss and tragedy in the death of family and friends.

My "new" philosophy of life is very simple. It is my old philosophy of life, only now, I am living it with more vigor and insistence.

"All gemutlich, all the time."

Gemutlich means cozy, endearing, in German.

It's a rough world out there.

All gemutlich, all the time.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

My Mother's Diamond Ring

One of the iconic visions I have of my Mother is the diamond ring on her hand. I saw it every day. It was the hand I held. It was the hand that fed me and caressed me. It truly represented her “until death do us part” marriage with my Father

One day, when my Father was failing, my Mother decided I should have her diamond ring. We had just come from the lawyer where she had rewritten her will.

She was feeling vulnerable, old and forgetful. “I don’t want to be one of these ladies who get taken to the hospital in an ambulance and her diamond ring is stolen off of her,” she said. And so, we went to get it reset together. I wanted her to enjoy choosing a setting with me for her beautiful stone. “Never let your diamond out of your sight,” she said, as we stood there, watching the jeweler set it into platinum.

After they were married, she always told it, one day my Father came home with a packet of loose diamonds. Those were the days when life was simpler. My Father’s accountant’s husband was a jeweler on 47th St. in Manhattan. My Mother looked at all the loose diamonds. “I chose the biggest one, of course.” It happened to be just a little over one carat and a very very good quality.

I was surprised, delighted and saddened when my Mother gave me her diamond. It signaled some sort of defeat, or acceptance in her heart, of something that was over. I thought it was tremendously generous of her to give it to me while she was still alive. She wanted to see the transition of the ring and not imagine it as something that would happen after her passing. She also wanted the security of really knowing where it went.

And now, my Mother has passed away, her diamond accompanies me every day. It is a powerful touchstone. Her diamond makes me strong and reminds me who I am, from where I came, and of how loved I was and still am.

I am happily divorced, but I still wear my Mother’s diamond on my left hand. I am too “old” now, to care that some man might think me engaged and be warned away. When has a ring ever stopped the right man?

My diamond gives me hope and strength. It is my Mother’s love on my finger.