The Season of the Family, with a poem, A Mother’s Grit

morris-berries-treeThe Season of the Family

The season of the family is upon us. In America, this includes Thanksgiving, Christmas, Chanukah, KWANZA, the Winter Solstice for the family of nature & all sentient beings, and the annual New Year cycling for the global family of life. At this time, the inescapable self reflection visits us. If we have met the criteria of our culture, we can celebrate. If we have not met the cultural marks we perceive, our lives may lay heavily upon us.

To be free of these burdens, we can remember the cultural criteria are just ideas that have gained acceptance. That is all they are. They are not reality. As human beings committed to living our lives from our bodies, hearts and souls, we can choose to deconstruct these criteria. We can define things differently. We can trust that to live our lives from our hearts will expand our souls and lead to deep satisfaction in our bodies. That is our criteria. If it feels good in our heart, our soul expands in peace and our bodies are comfortable. These are criteria worth living.

The following poem reflects a deconstruction and recreation of my perception of my mother during my teenage years. The poem describes the difficult situation my family lived through. Many would categorize this time with many limiting concepts. I certainly did that for many years. However, through my own healing, I have come to see it as a time of richness and growth. I used to see my mother as a weak woman in a chair. Now, I see a woman of remarkable courage. This poem is my tribute to Edith Manley Irwin Whelden, my mother. Mother, thanks for teaching me how to be a fighter, full of grit.

Years later, after these most difficult years, my mother totally recovered herself and threw herself full flung into life for her last 20 years. There is no good explanation for how she managed that. My father gets credit for keeping her at home, regardless of the challenges. The true warrior was my mother, of course. She gets all the credit for fighting an internal battle we will never have the privilege of understanding. But, we must understand that fifteen year journey as heroic. Unfortunately, it was not a topic she wished to discussed. Attempts to were bring it up were met with ferocious resistance. But, years later, after we had all matured and the end of her life was approaching, I ventured into the gated territory one more time. Sitting in our small town coffee shop, surrounded by biscuits and teas and coffees, I asked her why she decided to return. She answered simply, “I realized I was needed.” The discussion stopped. It was clear I was not to go on. But, in those words she answered a lifetime of questions.

As we move into this family time of the year, may we look to the light when we feel despair and struggle. The dark is only a shadow which is defined by light. The light is the truth.

A Mother’s Grit

My mother almost died when I was 13.

She slit her wrists and neck

And slipped inside herself.

Her body lived, containing her invisible remnant within that slender frame –

While sitting in the rose toned living room chair…

Rocking…staring…night and day.

Apparently, unable to minister to her teenage daughter,

…Who desperately grieved

…Invisibly – to herself.

Nonetheless, the invisible mother was there

Even in the nothingness…

Apparently without force…

Declaring in her moving stillness…

That, she was the mother,

She would fiercely be present to her child – no matter what …

And, thus, invisibly, miraculously, all the same,

She fed her daughter, a mother’s grit.

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