Monday, May 13, 2013

Thoughts on Mothers Day, 2013

This past weekend I spent with my mother, as I'm certain many do on this celebratory day.  She turned 90 just a few months ago, and though her physical capabilities aren't what they were even just a few short years ago (when she still mowed her lawn!), her mental acuity hasn't diminished one iota!  There have been countless occasions, usually while sharing a drink of rye whiskey, when she has reminded me I am by no means perfect.  I suppose this is every mother's role, to keep their sons' perspective grounded with an appropriate degree of humility.  We all crave the praise that mothers always like to dish out, but keeping a sense of reality about us is also a very good thing.  The amount of time I spent with her this past weekend gave her ample opportunity for her to speak her mind.  Us kids (despite just turning 61) would do well to pay attention.

Mom (and yes, that's me) in the yard of the house on Calla Colombia, Maracaibo, Venezuela
(ca 1953)

I have waxed eloquent about my father several times in the past few years, but I realized I haven't devoted significant blog time to my mother.  Both of them (individually and together) led fascinating lives spanning the globe during some of this past century's most significant and perhaps troublesome times.  It is the sum of those experiences that make her who she is, and in many ways earns her the right to say what she will. 

In 1940 her homeland was invaded by Germany and occupied for much of the war.  Like many of her neighbors, her family was profoundly affected and saw much suffering.  Barely a decade later she was living in South America during the oil boom of the late 1940's and early 1950's.  Later moving to Canada and then to the US, they would travel as far as The Philippines and Taiwan. 

Mom is in the front, on the right, with one of her sisters, sister-in-law, brother and father.  Scheveningen, Holland (ca 1937)

Though I was either too young or removed by distance (or not even born) during much of those times, perhaps the greatest struggle I witnessed was her caring for her husband and my father as he died a slow death through Alzheimer's Disease.  Watching her companion of more than 5 decades become a stranger with a fraction of his functionality must've been the ultimate painful test for her.  Walking with her through that journey made me appreciate the mettle of which my mother is made.  I have the utmost of admiration for her!

Happy Mothers Day, Mom.  You are an incredible woman.

Mom (on the right) and her youngest sister Leny, at Mom's 90th birthday celebration earlier this year. Yes, that is a glass of wine and yes, that is a look of suppressed laughter...the image
I choose to hold dear.