Sunday, August 10, 2008

For Mama, a"h

Yom sheni, 3 Av 5768/4 August 2008, Monday.

This post is quite out of character for this 'blog. But at the moment, I have no other forum from which to participate in the Carnival of Overdue Thanks. So bear with me...

Before she was born, her mother tried the wire hanger method of birth control.

Both mother and fetus survived, much to the mother’s chagrin. Which she never let the baby forget, until she was able to dump her off onto an abusive relative, at the tender age of three.

My Mama died at 63, after a lifetime of tragedy. Of being unwanted, by family and husbands. Of dreadful illness.

Of changing herself into whatever she thought might keep a husband at home.

I owe her a book, and I hope to write it one day.

For now, let me use this opportunity to say thank you to her.

When I was a very little girl, Mama married a second time. A dreadful incident happened (which I was to dream about for the next thirteen years). I told my dear Mama, who broke a potential cycle of abuse by leaving the bastard.

How many mothers -- especially young, unskilled-worker mothers of two tiny kids -- take the risk to believe the words of a three-year-old child? How many mothers DON'T stay too long, rationalizing their child's nightmare life?

Mama married again, to another man who didn't love her, but who was at least not a child abuser. She raised four kids, without the benefit of a mother's or father's wise guidance.

Prior to the cancer and diabetes that wrecked her very short life, she added to the lives of many people. She would "hold court" in one of the local cafes, where all the lost souls could come and count on a caring ear and a bit of cheerful wisdom. "How are you today?" someone would ask her. Mama (feeling like three-week-old mutton soup) would spread her arms in an embrace of the world, and say "I feel FAN-TAS-TIC!" And the smiles she created would light up the world.

Her native wisdom has helped me to raise my sons to be healthy individuals.

Some of her special guidance:

"I am going to give you the best eighteenth birthday present I can. I give you yourself. Take good care of it. You can still ask for advice; but you belong to yourself now."

"Don't worry. The child you had at five is the man you will have at 35."

"A child becomes interesting when she is 35."

"Why can't people celebrate their differences? God made different colors for a reason."

"All roads to God are the right one."

Dearest Mama, I want you to know that I miss you. I do not understand why you had to have such a rotten life.

When other people are lined up to ask Moshiach, "Why did we have to suffer the Holocaust?" -- I will be in a different, much shorter line. "Nu? What was the deal with my Mama?"

Life damaged you extraordinarily. Yet you never gave up. If you ever felt sorry for yourself, you never let us know. You loved us, beyond unconditionally. We could not have grown up to be healthy adults had you not been such a miracle of coping.

There is no thank you big enough for trusting the word of a little girl, thereby changing the course of her life.

Please accept this small fragment of gratitude. And may I -- ever your child -- request yet another favor? Could you put in a good word at The Front Office for RivkA bat Teirtzel? She could use a refua shelaima.


Your Little Girl

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