April 2018

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mom and Me and Mom and me and my mom

Ann started reading to me when I was recovering in the hospital after neurosurgery. When I was in the hospital, she read aloud Mary Oliver's New and Selected Poems and The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13 3/4, the story of a nerdy and  pimply teenage boy that our friends Rod and Susan loaned us.

She's kept reading over the past six years since I've been home. Right now she's reading Maya Angelou's Mom and Me and Mom (and Mary Oliver's Thirst). Mom and Me and Mom is Angelou's memoir of her relationship with her mother and seems like a good choice to be reading on Mother's Day.

Angelou's mom wasn't perfect: that's one thing I like about her. Young Maya called her "Vivian Baxter" or "Lady" for many years because she wasn't ready to call her "mom." Vivian Baxter sent four year-old Maya and her six year-old brother Bailey to Arkansas to grow up with their grandmother for a decade, and in that time Vivian Baxter was absent from their lives. When teenage Maya stayed out past curfew after she was living with Vivian Baxter again, Vivian Baxter beat her in the face with her keys, so that Maya's face was bruised, cut and swollen. Nope. She wasn't a perfect mom.

But Vivian Baxter loved her daughter fiercely. When sixteen year-old Maya came home pregnant, her mom celebrated the baby, and a few years later when Maya decided to try out for a job as a stripper, her mom helped her choose a theme and an outfit.

My mom wasn't perfect, either. Though neither she nor I were as outrageous as Maya and her mother, my mother has always loved me fiercely, too. When I was an ugly duckling pre-teen, my mom the beautiful swan saw beauty in me. When I came out as a lesbian, my mom flew from NC to Seattle to meet my partner and to show me that she loved me. When I spent almost a month in the hospital after brain surgery, my mom took turns with my partner sleeping on the uncomfortable cot beside me.

Today, on Mother's Day, but every day, really, I'm amazed by such absolute love. My mom's not perfect, but she's perfect for me.

Thanks for loving me, Mom.

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