This blog post was inspired by Denise Oliver Velez’s diary in The Daily Koz, http://bit.ly/1F9qYs3 in which she writes about the almost complete lack of representation of non-White women when female merits are praised during this month. It comes down to the usual, that history is written by the victors, and those have belonged, in our time and age, to the White race.
I was thinking of blogging about women writers whose inspirational works have nourished so many through the years, but then, my mother Rosa’s image appeared. I only have few pictures of her features and have not ingrained her likeness in my memory. But I know that she was a woman with enormous courage and strength of character.
In a recent article about meditation and Love, or attempting to meditate on Love, the question was asked: “How would it feel like to love my father.” The one asking was talking about his dying father with whom he had little contact, although he had known him well. It was a rather shocking thought for me. I have been focusing on my Heart Chakra for a while now, wanting to access what I consider a bruised heart that has, since childhood, been accumulating protective layers to shield the innermost feelings from being hurt further. “What would it feel like to love my mother?” I asked myself. I know for sure that, as all little children, I loved her, loved the body from which I had emerged.
I want to understand this woman, who despite profound humility had enormous courage. Her hold on me, even as I was growing up looking increasingly like my father did not lessen. Her love for me transcended the barriers of her own financial limitations, the perceived racial superiority of my German parents, the long hours traveling to see me, and my disdain, that with time can only have become excruciatingly painful for her. But she took it upon herself to face the disrespect to present her little Black girl, at every opportunity, the face of the Garifuna ethnicity and culture to which she belonged.
There was nothing the Germans, or the help in the household could do to keep her away. The German family knew her well and all had loved her, but became infatuated with her child. They felt guilt. My feelings around my mother’s visits, when I was left alone with her, were such that I thought there was something wrong with her that the Germans did not want to see her. I was too young to understand that it was their inability to cherish her Blackness and see her as a woman on an equal footing.
When I became a mother, among the things that became deeply ingrained in my psyche, is an almost panic-like fear of losing my son. As a child he was always with me; if not with me, with his dad. For a while I was working as an interpreter for the North Hollywood Office of Appeals, and he would come along and sit next to the judge on the bench through out the entire procedure. He could draw if he liked, but the little 3- / 4-year old listened to what was being said. Impressed, probably by the fact that when his mother spoke, she had authority and everyone listened respectfully to her words. To this day, he listens respectfully to what I have to say… not agreeing necessarily, but taking time to respond in a considered way. I say this, because I attribute his very close bond to his parents to him having always been with us, so that he never had to
create a scene to gain our attention. He knew he had it, unconditionally.
The internalized fears of losing my child were transferred to me from my mother Rosa’s anguish at her loss. At the time, I could not consciously connect or understand her despair. Today I understand her spiritually, for she created an incomparable environment of protection and security for her grandson.
So, in the Month of the Woman, I bow to my mother’s Spirit and her persevering Heart in the face of insurmountable obstacles. She was indeed a most remarkable woman.
Our mothers are so often taken for granted, that we praise the efforts of other women, when we probably have examples of courage, honor, respect, love in the person who gave us love and life. Do you consider your mother, and how you love her? And do you perhaps consider letting her know how much you value her presence in your life, physically and spiritually? I would love to have you join this discussion!