Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Telling Your Story

Saturday, we had Meg Brady, a Folk Arts teacher at the University of Utah whose job is collecting and teaching people how to collect stories through Hospice and the Huntsman Cancer Center. She presented the whys and the myths of reminiscing and telling your story. I have understood the one side to the importance of telling our story; so it doesn't go to the grave with you, so our children and grand children get to know what our lives were like, to share what it was like in "the olden days." I didn't understand until this presentation how important telling our story is for the storyteller. She said in England they pay to have people facilitate reminiscing in old folks homes because the residents are more sociable and more connected with the present. So remembering the past doesn't mean that we are living in the past. More importantly, she talked about how by talking about and writing about our past that we begin to see the patterns of our lives, that our lives and the incidents of our lives are not just random occurrences but that they are a part of a life pattern. That makes our lives have meaning and we may not even understand what that meaning was until we write or revisit the events at the end of our lives. We may begin to see the theme of our lives and better understand the importance of why we were here. I had an epiphany today, that this is probably what we have to do when we die. We go to the writing room and begin to write our memoirs. We have to get this done before we can go hang out with God and get on with the next part. So if you've written your own history and thoroughly evaluated your life, you are ready to move on, otherwise you will be hanging out in the writing room for some time first. Do you hear that Dad, Roberta, Aunt Margie, me?

Sunday, May 9, 2010

As Mother's Day Continues to Change

The last Mother's Day for me was May, 1988. My Mother was consumed by the cancer that would take her from us in just a couple of weeks. I bought her red sweats that Mother's Day. They may have come from the children's dept. since they were so small to fit her shrinking body. We did have to cut out the waist because of her abdomen that was enlarged from effects of her cancer. She was struggling to eat anything and went from coherent to interacting with that world she was preparing to enter. We were still deluding ourselves with our talk of hope in beating cancer. She knew she wasn't winning the battle but she allowed our talk of hope. Her last words to me were "there's still so much I have to tell you." I will never know what those things might have been. She does present herself now in the most interesting and unusual ways if I choose to believe.

How do you continue to celebrate Mother's Day when your mother is gone? For me it has been a day of sadness, of remembering my loss, of calculating all the places that she is missing. I have gone through the motions, my own children deserve that but I'm sure they felt my sadness and loss as well. I have celebrated my mother-in-law and my stepmom but they have also been short changed by my sadness.

This year something has changed once again. I am selfishly spending this Mother's Day in Boulder, just Steve and I. I received the usual Mother's Day greetings and then I went to the yard to rake and feel the dirt on my hands. I have sat in the sun and let it warm me. I have washed clothes and then felt the breeze as I hang them on the line. I did prepare ahead of time to celebrate my daughter for Mother's Day. She is celebrating that first Mother's Day having chosen motherhood and even though the previous Mother's Days have been well worth celebrating, it was also bittersweet in the way that it changed her life before it was time. She is an wonderful mother and I celebrate her without even a twinge of the sadness except her Grandma Rae would have loved the new girl that possesses her name. I also celebrate my mother-in-law who now speaks directly to her twin sister, dead now for years. I honor the decision to move her to more care as the dementia over takes her. She is more at peace than she has been for some time. I still question the why of this disease and who it is for, what we are all suppose to gain. I celebrate my step mother for her love and kindness through the years. How she decided friendship with my mother was the right step, leading the way to friendship with my sister and I. I celebrate my sister for example of mothering and for always being there for me. She is the one who always understands exactly what this day and so many others feels like and means. I celebrate my Grandma Roundy for teaching me so well about being a grandma. I celebrate the incredible aunts I have, my Aunt Renon for her support at all the events of my life, for my King aunts for inspiring me to write, and read, and think. I celebrate cousins who are great mothers and raise children that are as interesting as they are. I celebrate friends who choose to be a part of my life and allow me to be a part of their lives as well. I celebrate my new daughter-in-law and look forward to many wonderful life events together. Happy Mother's Day to all the incredible women in my life. You have made me so much better than I would have been without you.