Saturday, May 12, 2012

A Mother's Day Tribute

I am reading a novel titled Soucouyant by a Canadian writer of Trinidadian descent named David Chariandy.  It's a heart-wrenching novel about loneliness, and coming to terms with those we love. In the novel, a young man returns home after a two year absence.  He had left because he couldn't deal with his mother's dementia. On his return, he re-learns the patience needed to live with her "eccentricities."

The novel got me thinking and I wrote this tribute to the eccentric women in my life.  It's not about one woman, but rather a composite of many women I have known and the stories my friends tell me.

On Mother’s Day, a tribute to the old woman, the grandmother or great-grandmother, the one who can no longer cook meals for us, or take care of us, the one that can barely if at all take care of herself.  The one who needs us more than we need her. The one slowly forgetting our birthdays,  and our names.  The one who forgets to turn off the stove, who cannot remember how to get home, or whether she took her medication. The one who meets guests in a dirty bata, wears no slip, and is unaware of her unbrushed hair. Also the one who grumbles over the neighbors, their dogs, their chickens, and many other genuine or imagined offenses.   

The one that still wants pretty things, just because. The one that picks up stray pins, or bags, or pieces of paper, or the assorted items because she might need them later. The one who feeds stray dogs, cats, even pigeons. The one who gives things away, those we wanted to keep, that we (oh outrage!) thought she cherished like photographs, jewelry, dolls, mementos varied.  The one who no longer finds roses or orchids interesting and fails to tend to her garden. The one who has strange friends, friends no one knows, no one trusts, who hang around the house (our house!) and don’t leave when we get there.  The one who says unpleasant things, who reveals intimacies, who makes bawdy jokes; the one who discloses family biases, who embarrasses us in front of friends and the one who wants only to pray and to feed and dress her saints. 

The old woman who defiantly wears red lipstick, wears pink dresses and stumbles in her highheels. The one that annoyingly still demands flattery, or explanations, or (good grief!) gifts. The one who won’t get out of bed, or leave the house, or that one who longs to be under the hot steaming sun, or the one who stills runs and plays with her great grandchildren.

This is a tribute to the old mother, the one with the wrinkled forehead, the veiny hands and the steely grey, or not so grey head for she too should be honored not for what she was (although that is a large part of who she is to us) but for whom she still is now.

Happy Mother's Day

1 comment:

Elba Iris Pérez, Ph.D. said...

I love it, ELF. As I read this I can imagine a mime parade with all of these characters. Women who do not fit the picture on a postcard. Women who have an inner life that we may not fully understand. Women whom we may wish we had never met or, had already forgotten. Your sensitivity in this tribute to them is heart warming. Happy Mother's Day!