Category Archives: Jazz

If My Mother Were Alive Today

IF MY MOTHER WERE ALIVE TODAY
March 28, 2009

If my mother were alive today
she would probably have a vegetable garden,
though she never grew anything other than us five kids that I can remember.
She would embrace the Green and Slow Food movements, organic food, Alice Waters, Al Gore, recycling, and perhaps even have a compost pile.
My mother was an avid follower of Adelle Davis and Julia Child; gourmet cuisine and nutrition, though never in the same meal.

If my mother were alive today
I think she would revere our new President Obama,
just as she had John F. Kennedy.
I remember the day I arrived home from kindergarten to find her sitting in front of the television in our living room, crying.
When I asked her what was wrong, she told me our President had been killed. My five-year old mind could not comprehend the implications of such an event or the sorrow of her tears; now I understand.

If my mother were alive today
I hope she would be happy that I actually read
Tolstoy’s, War and Peace.
A two-volume paperback version of War and Peace was by her bedside
when she went into the coma that ended her life three days later.
I have to confess that I read it this past winter,
in order to finish something she had started.

If my mother were alive today
she would be happy that I still take walks up on ‘Mummu’s Hill’-
the open space my grandmother fought for years to save.
She would be comforted that I still appreciate where I come from
no matter where life has led me.
Coincidentally, I was on that hill today, comforted by my old friends the California poppies, Tidy Tips, and Buttercups dancing amongst memories of family walks during holidays gatherings. Though Mommy was never there for those walks, it was because of her we were there.

If my mother were alive today
I would make sure she saw her seven great grandchildren
and that they knew how special she was.
She was a deeply intellectual and philosophical thinker,                                                                                                                                                fascinated with avant garde culture and the possibility of extraterrestrial life.              

If my mother were alive today
I hope she would celebrate with me to find out
I am one week away from sending my 1st. manuscript
to the publisher;
something she didn’t have the opportunity to do.
I found out years later that before her death she spent two years writing a novel
which was destroyed before anyone could read it.

If my mother were alive today
we could discuss literature over coffee—two of her habits I fervently adopted.
Insisting I knew she was cultured and literate                                                                                                                                                                         
 she took me for walks on the Stanford University Campus,                                                                                                                                                 sharing secrets of what seemed to be an ‘alter-life’.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Though after our walks we inevitably returned to our real home,                                                                                                                                                  a shack in the ghetto of East Palo Alto.
But, no matter how poor or trapped we were in any given moment
my mother demonstrated that we always had books and the knowledge of others
to expand our lives beyond our circumstances.

If my mother were alive today
I could ask her the many, many questions
about her life that she left unanswered
like, ‘Who was my father?’
What was it really like                                                                                                                                                                                                    following around the jazz greats in the 50’s and living in the basement of Kalisa’s in Monterey?                                                                                         What actually happened that summer in Lake Tahoe during her 16th year,                                                                                                                                that seemed to change her self-concept forever?

I may never know the answers
to these questions;
I can only imagine.
I am comforted in knowing she is happy where she is now
because she told me so
when she visited me in my dreams after her death.
Today is the thirty eighth anniversary of that death,
Which came seven days after her 34th birthday.

This loss of my mother                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    gave me a different experience in life.
As a twelve-year old, I had to figure things out for myself
stumbling through how to be a woman, a wife, a mother, and a professional.                                                                                                                        I had many rough moments, and some really bad influences but eventually                                                                                                                                   I sought out awesome mentors who helped me find my way.

As is human nature,                                                                                                                                                                                                                     I have taken on some of my mother’s unfinished business and                                                                                                                                                      preserved every precious little kernel of culture and wisdom                                                                                                                                                  she fed to me in my first twelve years from preparing crème brulee’ and cardamom bread
to a love of literature, education, and the Extraordinary in Life.                                                                                                                                                   I have come to appreciate those kernels more                                                                                                                                                                     because there are so few of them.                                                                                                                                                                                            Loss has been my inspiration, my eternal compassion,                                                                                                                                                              never taking for granted how precious my life is;                                                                                                                                                                   each kernel becoming a jewel with time.                                                                                   

If you can hear me Mommy,                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I just want you to know that I, too am okay!

Love, Christie

 

 

 

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