Tuesday, May 5, 2015
This morning a writer friend sent a YouTube video via private message. It’s A Beautiful Day’s "White Bird." Not sure why James sent it, but no matter… it was a lovely gesture. "White Bird" has significance for me though I've not thought about the song in years.
Today my mom would have been 94. The gorgeous woman with the camera here. The wind is blowing her skirt; it’s not a thread holding it in place, like a magazine shot. A gust just came along to make this photo perfect. She’s looking into the lens of a box camera and must have been heavily concentrating; one had to hold them very still to get a decent picture. A car is parked on the street behind her and I believe this is taken in Enumclaw. I wonder who is taking the photo of her but I can guess.
I miss my mom. She was hard on me, most of my life, but she loved me dearly and I know that. It wasn't always easy being her daughter. She was demanding of everyone around her. She expected a lot. My mom had special disdain for people who slept well. She could not bear to let us kids sleep in and when we were adults, she deliberately made phone calls very early in the morning. The devil got his due when she was elderly and would miss the final moments of television shows and movies, nodding off.
My mother put me on rigid diets from the ages of about 12 – 15, until I rebelled. I was never fat but I was not sleek and thin like other women in my family. It bothered her immensely. And then I became a hippie. It nearly killed her but was nothing compared to what I did later, getting pregnant out of wedlock. Shame for the family. Twice.
Mom and I became friends after my father died; he had always been my great defender and perhaps she felt the job fell into her camp. She read just about every word I wrote. She praised my writing and was proud. When she was dying, she asked me to print out some of my poetry and she would sit and read it, her head wrapped in a silly turban to hide the hair loss. I have a strong image of that.
My mother shared her birthday with her sister, who was born on May 1st, five years later. They’re together now, having died two years apart. When I was young, our families got together for every occasion and made a very big deal of anniversaries, graduations, confirmations and such. There were a lot of photos taken; lots of shutterbugs in the family.
Many years ago I was living in Los Angeles and pregnant with my little girl. I had a close friend at the time and she was quite hip. Tanya’s mom owned a "poodle parlor" in San Diego and Tanya went by the last name of Lord, though that wasn't her real name. She moved in with me and we were soul sisters, doting on my baby boy and waiting for my next baby to be born. Tanya and I bonded in a way I never really have with another woman. Most people thought we were lesbians and we were not, but we never denied it.
Tanya was a Taurus like my mom, and there were odd similarities I couldn't help realizing. it was a strange type of perfectionism they shared. Once Tanya took me to a party high in the hills of Hollywood. There were candles and flowers floating in the pool and famous people there but I'd been out of touch, having babies, so she explained to me who they all were. Tanya was very in tune with current culture and I've never forgotten when she brought albums home. It’s a Beautiful Day was one of her favorite groups. We listened to "White Bird," mesmerized by the melody and the lyrics. We spun that LP over and over until the grooves were deep as our thoughts and desires.
So this morning when James sent me the video, just as I was waking up and thinking about Mom’s birthday, clouds of images took over.
I lost touch with Tanya long ago. I've no idea where she ended up. Mom's been gone for five years this July. My hair's turning gray and my children are different people from those to whom I gave birth.
"The sunsets come; The sunsets go; The clouds roll by; And the earth turns old; And the young bird's eyes Do always glow…."
Happy Birthday, Mom and you, too, Tanya, wherever you both are.
Thanks for reading.