|My Mother, Photo by My Father -|
Down the hill from me, in a town called Jisr ‘aZarka, built by Turks using African immigrants resistant to malaria for the clearing of swamps around the source of the Tananim Stream, a print of an image hangs. It’s called The Dream, and is a visual reminder of a dream that I had once had about my mother … and her decline from health and ultimately her death … zikhron le’brakha. The story of my mother echoes beyond the last movement of her chest, with breath borrowed, with life infected. My mother died of a broken heart, zikhron le’brakha. God had failed her, the only thing that makes sense to me … now looking back. She was only a child, an only child, so … even though children nowadays are grown so much faster, her life path was set by others … far her senior. This is the story she told of her journey, anyways. As a storyteller myself, it’s hard to know how the actual truth weaves into the telling, but I, as a human being and as a once loved son … have to believe that truth lies between the bones; even though my mother’s bones became the cremated remains of my memories … once vital and vivacious … once a beautiful woman, my mother … playing the guitar, the flute, singing … planting wayward flowers into the SoCal garden controlled by my father, a manifest urban planner planning his domain. My mother died years ago, now; but, I haven’t missed her as much as I do now … sitting here in my bomb-shelter studio writing this. She loved me more … the most. She loved me with all of her heart, broken as it was. I was her first born, her hope. And, in my last conversation with her, this amazing woman that brought me into the world, as I merely uttered words over the telephone from far, far away, I live with and I know, to this day … that I was the one ... actually, that failed her.
We all have our lives and our worlds to inhabit, loved ones or not, and our thoughts and experiences define who we ‘will’ be… always. Often I imagine living in the jungles of Mexico or somewhere in South America, only seeing the light of day when the seasonal swells have risen on the Pacific Ocean, and wandering down out of the shadows of living to ride the biggest waves all year. There are actual people that do this … year in and year out. I’ve heard of some and I’ve known some that aspired to be. I have yet to meet one. I imagine the lonely worlds that these individuals would inevitably inhabit … just each of them and God, mano a Mano. I imagine them as I descend the mountains nearby on a mountain bike, full-bore and without purpose … other than to forget, and to remember. I imagine them as I sit in front of an empty canvas … or screen as I write … mano a Mano. I failed my mother because I was the prodigal son. I failed because I didn’t follow the prescribed path. She should have known, you would think, the moment that I refused to wear the brand new polo shirt she had bought me. She should have known when my grades came in with F’s in anything I didn’t care for, and straight A’s in everything else. She should have known that I was cutting my own path, or so you would think … at least I would like to as I look back on my mother’s life and death. She died of a broken heart, I already said, but really it was a broken womb; my mother died of neglected and unchecked uterine cancer, and in the world that I inhabit … this means that my mother’s cancer started in the same place that I did, in her womb. My father died of cancer also, but his was a heady, cerebral kind of affair, being a brain tumor, not connected to genetics but to randomness and/or so-called environmental issues. Stress killed my dad, while birth killed my mom.
Once my mother died, a few years ago now, the courts took over … with lawyers and judges and all. The system took charge, as it should have. I relegated my last conversation with my mother to the ongoing insanity that lead up to her death. She couldn’t speak because of a medical device strapped across her mouth, enabling her to breathe; but, she could listen, and she could hear if she chose to. I imagine her husband, the alcoholic carpetbagger that she had bailed out of jail and then secretly married in Las Vegas, holding the phone to her head as she listened to me tell her how she had broken the law, broken the family trust, and broken her children’s hearts. It was the last conversation that I had had with her … and it haunts me to this day. I woke one morning from a terrible nightmare. I was expected to organize the arrangements, the billing, and the disasters that had already come to pass. I was the first born and was compelled by hand to try and put all of the pieces back together, as if ‘I’ were all the king’s horses and men. In my dream, using my skills as a carpenter, I hammered and screwed the parts together, hoping that tape wouldn’t be needed … all the while knowing that resorting to mere tape is a death-sentence. As I connected one part, the first would fall off, then the next, as I would attach the first again. My time became consumed with repairing the past. I stopped breathing and my face turned from red to white. But, in the last moment before I disappeared into nothing, I awoke to find that it had all been a dream! I was so excited, so enthralled … that I immediately flew straight up into the air. I hovered above my town, Zikhron Yaakov, and then began to fly. I flew over the path that I daily walked upon to get to my ‘then’ job at the German Christian Zionist’s doing marcom and website design. I was so damn happy … not to have to deal with all of the emotional stress of managing from afar my mother’s would-be whereabouts. I was so damn happy that I flew. I flapped my arms displaying an embarrassing display of complete insecurity living in the world, and I flew … far above anyone that could ever care or even want to. I flew.
My mother’s remains were entombed within an urn. Her husband had them burned and compacted thus. My mothers’ children weren’t allowed to speak to her … on the phone … anymore. She died. I have had a sweet‘n-sour relationship with my mother, starting way back from the time of my father’s death … and now, just now, my mother has finally passed to the next world. I realize that, today, I miss her almost as much as I miss my father; but, I suspect, with God’s help, that my connection with her will now be able to grow … and maybe even to bloom into something tremendous and altogether alien to my current whereabouts … bistrat Hashem.
I love you Mom, Drew.