Hope on Her Birthday

Sylvia: Happy birthday, my dear! Older and wiser!

Erma: I don’t know about wiser, but I’m hopeful!

I don’t know what time she was born. I guess I could dig out her birth certificate and find out easily enough. To me, my mother was born the day I came into the world. Obviously, she had a life “b.k.”(before Kay), but I didn’t know her then. All I know of that woman who became my mother, both the little girl who wore braids and gingham and the young, blond-haired teen who played the drums before it was cool for a girl to play the drums, has been conveyed to me through others’ recollections, her own accounts as she would share an anecdote from her past with the slightly veiled purpose of teaching a lesson, and the photos that I have. And what connects all of the snapshots, real and those that I’ve taken in my mind’s eye which remain guarded like priceless treasure, is her eyes. It is said that the eyes are the windows to the soul; thus, it follows and must be that my mother, b.k. and always, was and remains one of the most beautiful, trusting, and trusted souls God could have offered this world.

Most of us, not all, love our mothers and have been loved by our mothers. I’ve been accused of worshipping mine. (In fact, my mother often reminded me, especially as she neared her last days, that she was indeed human, flawed like the rest of us, so she too should be allowed to make mistakes.) She would often say that the one bad rap that mothers had to endure was that they were held to a higher standard than everyone else on the planet! Now that I’m a mother, I admittedly understand this so much better. I digress though. I did worship my mother, something she never demanded or expected, but it happened nonetheless. How did it happen? Ah, that’s the question. The trusting and trusted eyes!

My mother had xray vision, vision that led her to know exactly what another human needed. To many and certainly to her family, this special sense- some call it a sixth sense while others deem it intuition- was who she was and how she lived her life at the very core. And while she may have regretted not doing all the things she had hoped to do before she died, I do believe she lived a purposeful life and her legacy is an honorable one. Her legacy? Her gift? She left it to everyone who had the honor and pleasure of looking into her eyes. My mother made those who crossed her path feel important, no matter their lot in life. She gave others hope. She found and saw something redeeming in everyone. She wasn’t oblivious to the harshness or evils of the world. She wasn’t naïve. She wasn’t optimistic. Mom was hopeful. I do believe there is a big difference between optimism and hope, and I think her trusting and trusted eyes became reflective of that difference.

I’m babbling a bit because as we all know the totality of a life cannot be put adequately into words. Indeed, my mother’s life cannot. Her legacy can though. Hope. She believed in me. She believed in her grandson. And if you had the good fortune of meeting her, befriending her, working for or with her, she believed in you. That belief – those trusting and trusted eyes- keep me hopeful. I don’t believe that life is perfect and I’m far from thinking everything will turn out well in the end. However, I am hopeful.

On her birthday, I’m going to trust her and her legacy. I’ll go to celebrate her life with my dad today, and in that gift alone, I’m offered hope.

Thanks, Mom. And I’ve come to realize that you never wanted to be worshipped; you wanted to be loved. You were. You are. You always will be.

Created Worthy

You do not need to become worthy. You were born worthy! Be perfectly imperfect as was the plan all along.

Sylvia and Erma are each doing their own thing this Saturday morning. One thing’s for sure though- they’ll catch up with each other later and remind one another with a little push from Viola that each [of them] is exactly as God/the universe intended. Meanwhile, Sylvia’s sharing a favorite of hers (author unknown).

The story goes:

When God created Woman, he was working late on the sixth day.

An Angel came by and asked, “Why spend so much time on her?”

The Lord answered, “Have you seen all the specifications I have to meet to shape her?

She must function on all kinds of situations.

She must be able to embrace several kids at the same time, have a hug that can heal anything from a bruised knee to a broken heart.

She must do all this with only two hands.

She cures herself when sick and can work 18 hours a day.”

The Angel was impressed. “Just two hands? Impossible! And this is the standard model?”

The Angel came closer and touched the woman. “But you have made her so soft, Lord.”

“She is soft,” said the Lord, “but I have made her strong. You can’t imagine what she can endure and overcome.”

“Can she think?” the Angel asked.

The Lord answered, “Not only can she think, she can reason and negotiate.:

The Angel touched her cheeks. “Lord, it seems this creation is leaking! You have put too many burdens on her.”

“She is not leaking. It is a tear,” the Lord corrected the Angel.

“What’s it for?” asked the Angel.

The Lord said, “Tears are her way of expressing her grief, her doubts, her love, her loneliness, her suffering and her pride.”

This made a big impression on the Angel. “Lord, you are a genius. You thought of everything. A woman is indeed marvelous.”

The Lord said, “Indeed she is. She has strength that amazes a man. She can handle trouble and carry heavy burdens. She holds happiness, love and opinions.”

She smiles when she feels like screaming. She sings when she feels like crying, cries when happy and laughs when afraid. She fights for what she believes in.

Her love is unconditional. Her heart is broken when a next-of-kin or a friend dies but she finds strength to get on with life.

The Angel asked, “So she is a perfect being?”

The Lord replied, “No. She has just one drawback.
SHE OFTEN FORGETS WHAT SHE IS WORTH.”

—Author unknown

(Picture/painting credit: S.Chakamian)

Sylvia Knows Heaven on Earth

I don’t believe in heaven. Not as a destination anyway. Well, let me further amend that to say that I don’t believe that “good” people -those who lived life both honestly and vulnerably, with purpose and love in their hearts for themselves and the world around them, those who atoned for their “sins” (you know, those so-called egregious lapses in judgment for which we seek forgiveness and absolution throughout life, not hurriedly as we stand at death’s door)- I don’t believe that they simply, miraculously, and invisibly rise to the sky, “up to heaven” upon death, and gain actual wings. I’m not deluded or crazy after all, though I’m certain there are many who would say differently.

When I look to the sky, whether it is just to the level of the horizon as I watch the fiery orange sun come up to touch the still-sleepy blue sky or straight up into the depths of the black night canvas that on some nights appears riddled with stardust and on others is so dark and vacant that no strangers have even dared to stop at the countless, lightless inns above, I picture heaven. It’s not a place at all. It’s a feeling. For me.  It’s the promise, the hope,  and the possibility that a new day brings. It’s the unconditional love between a mother and a child, between a daughter and a father. The seamless and steadfast love between friends who are also soulmates.

I’ll find heaven today. It’ll be in my child’s laugh whether I hear it over the phone or recall its hearty playfulness when I read a text from him. And most assuredly, I’ll see heaven in my father’s smiling eyes today. I’ll find her right here in all that I do today and in everything and in everyone who loved her and who loves and supports me. Seven years without her – some might say “hell on earth” and oh, I’ve said that quite often!   Today, I’m going to tell myself that I’ve been blessed to know, feel, and experience heaven on earth.  I had a mother who shared and who continues to share life’s bounty and beauty with me. Now and evermore. 

“A mother’s love is a slice of heaven.” (~k. morgan)

(Photo credit: Florence McGinn)

True Wealth