Monday, February 7, 2011

Day Two Hundred Thirty Six

Today, February 7th, was my mother's birthday.  So, this one's for you, Mom.

My mother was a very interesting woman.  I've never met anyone like her.  She was born in 1933 during the Great Depression in Phoenix.  Her childhood was spent bouncing around different places in Arizona, southern California and Nevada.  She was  truly from the old West.  The stories she told about her childhood fascinated me.  I was born in 1960 and grew up during the social and sexual revolutions of the times; our experiences could not have been any more disparate.  I bought myself a VW bug when I was sixteen, she rode a burro to high school and married and gave birth at sixteen.  She actually told me of "turf wars" between the teenagers of Goldfield and Tonopah, Nevada over the ownership rights to the wild burros that roam that part of the desert among the eerie Joshua trees.  (I have often wondered what a rumble over burros looked like.)

While we were very different in many ways, I credit her for teaching me some really important things, including about the amassing of personal possessions.  I've heard and read many stories of people from the depression era being incredibly frugal and tending towards being unable to throw anything away in case it would be of use later.  My mom didn't have those kinds of issues.  She traveled pretty lightly, valuing the ability to be flexible perhaps above all else.  In an instant she would reinvent herself, her life, her environment. We moved a lot and often without much notice (not because we were on the lam or anything - she just didn't think kids needed to be kept apprised of things; it was before kids had psyches).  Leisurely consideration of what to keep and what to let go of didn't really happen most moves.  We moved once in a green horse trailer hooked up behind a U-Haul van.  Two kids with Mom in the truck and the rest of the brood in with a couple of cousins in a station wagon driven by our aunt.  The point of this is that my mother embodied the belief that if you didn't need it or love it then you should leave it behind.   Honestly, I was around 15 before I realized I had friends whose parents had been married to each other their whole lives and some had lived in the same house since they were born!  It had never occurred to me that there was another way to be which is a credit to my mother. 

Later, I decided that the Ozzie and Harriet style of life I had discovered must be better and I was determined to give it a try.  As a result I hung on to things and relationships beyond the point when they were no longer needed or loved.  All of that is what I'm working now to keep letting go of, little by little.  Mom, Happy Birthday.  You were right about a lot of things.

These have lost their usefulness for me:
1.  A racquetball racket
2.  Another racquetball racket
3.  Yep, yet another one.  Oddly, a couple of these were well worn and I don't even remember anyone every playing racquetball.
4.  A yellow baseball with a smiley face on it
5.  A 6' piece of wooden rope molding

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