February 13, 2011
Today is the 100th anniversary of my mother’s birth. As I wrote of her last year, “She was born before construction was complete on the Titanic, before the sinking of the LusitaniaÂ brought the United States into World War I, and before women could vote. Although she had been a talented executive office administrator [during the war and then from about 1960 until 1980], she died [in 1993] not quite sure yet if a word processor was a person or a machine. The best advice she ever gave me was not to use your credit card for food or pantyhose, because you wouldnâ€™t have either one anymore when the bill came.”
My mother and I had conflicts. I have said that it seemed she didn’t know where she ended and I began. She could be critical and controlling. She could also be generous and wise. In the eulogy I gave for her I said, “Read Proverbs 31 and you will read about my mother. Her worth was far beyond jewels. She kept an eye on the doings of her household, and she did not eat the bread of idleness. As a homemaker she was frugal, clever, and generous.”Â
In my own mothering, I have tried to take the best and leave the rest. I will never forget that the last time I saw her smile, two days before she died, she was smiling at Lynn.
This is also the 12th anniversary of the start of what has become Markings: Days of Her Life. You can read the first post here. It was only coincidental that the day coincided with my mother’s birthday. Beginning it was, I think, a way out of the February doldrums. In reviewing last year’s anniversary post, I saw that I made reference to a young friend’s decision to square his shoulders, draw a line, and break out of some old patterns that were holding him back. His energy inspired me then to gather my own and move forward.
He and I had the same conversation this past week. With the same result.
This time last year I was farther ahead with the Bread Loaf application manuscripts that are due on March 1. Last year I was working on a story with a main character whose mother is dying. This year I am working with a character whose mother is missing, Stacey is 20 years old now, but her mother left when she was 13 and she has not heard from her since. Stacey is married already and the mother of two. Her young husband likewise has a missing mother. She left when he was 4, taking his sister with him but leaving him with his irresponsible and immature father. The “change bomb,” the event that starts the story inÂ motion, is the sudden death of Stacey’s young friend, a girl whose mother left her when she was a toddler. Stacey has contact information for her mother and for her husband’s. Why has she acquired it? What does she want from it? Will she act on it?
So, I am back (again) in this space, my friend DG is back (again), and so are my characters, with all their mother conflicts. Come with me again, as you have for twelve years.
The picture below shows my parents, Ludwig Yakimoff (1916-1985) and Rose Dwyer Yakimoff (1911-1993) at a family celebration in 1975. My mother is 64 years old here. I will turn 64 in three and a half weeks.
Happy Hundredth Birthday Anniversary, Mommy.
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Well, my mother is of a different generation, and still alive, but I can see a lot of similarities, and I don’t think that’s just what I’ll call “the horoscope effect” (i.e. something general enough to be true of anyone).
As we move forward as parents ourselves, “take the best and leave the rest” seems just about right.
Best wishes for the story!