Linda V. Lewis.
My mom raised me on her own, working two jobs, a heroine of a teacher, often no car, no tv, no bad fake food—she nevertheless had simple taste, beautiful old furniture, we made art and read good books, ate artichoke leaves with lemon and butter on our front steps…and rode horses, participated in the burgeoning Buddhist community of Trungpa Rinpoche and Naropa Institute, practiced Japanese flower arranging and archery, went to museums and movies at the library and other free illuminating stuff, rescued a dog, Pumpkin, and two cats, mine was named Boo cause he was black like a witch’s cat in Halloween.
Anyway: one of the best moms ever.
Maybe the first memory I have is of being tossed from one mommy to another in Spruce Pool…and my eyes went underwater for a moment, bubbles and sun and light blue water
she loved baseball, like my dad
She knew everyone and loved to chit chat, I hated waiting around forevvver while she talked and talked (now I do the same to my friends and girlfriends)
I remember leaning out our car window and smiling, it was a happy youth
despite the dad, despite being so poor we had no car, no TV, no presents, so poor she sold the house because she couldn’t make the dreaded “balloon payment,”
balloon: a happy image for an ominous, little understood threat
she had good old fashioned simple taste, everything was wood and warm and we read books and she loved to garden and hike and go to museums and doooo things. Now they say memories of ordinary adventures are most cherished when old
she loved making artichoke with lemon and butter and we’d eat the leaves together on our porch, sitting at the picnic table or right on the front stoop where, in winter, a huuge icicle pillar would appear
well, my childhood I always think of as having been rich
We didn’t always have fancy food but we had love and goldfish and two cats and one dog we rescued and we had learning, and Dharma, and sangha. I remember when I was 12 eating popcorn we’d pop ourselves and watching Wheel of Fortune and Hart to Hart on our fancy new TV set.
though we didn’t have presents sometimes or Christmas
I learned art from her, and the importance of spelling (she’d even correct my letters I’d send back home, once at college)
when I turned 15 I went from being always “the best son ever” to “like my father”—I wanted to party and run around and didn’t want to call home all the time
I hated it when she cut her lovely hair short (why do women do that when they grow older, long white hair is gorgeous)
She guarded my education, transferring me from school to school (but not in a bad way)
She treated me like an adult, mostly (sometimes she lectured me for an hour, recalling everything I’d done wrong for the last month, while I shook my head in glazed boredom—how’d she remember all that?)
Thanks to her I have many memories of Trungpa Rinpoche and the Regent…falling asleep on her lap on the meditation cushions, or going to Ngedon School with her, or even to a few parties or big festivals…and I got to study kyudo with Sensei from a young age, and ikebana, and oryoki, and horseback riding (we stabled a poor beautiful formerly abused horse for years). Thanks to her I grew up thinking I was intelligent, an interesting and powerful notion that predetermines so much success
while I wish I had a poppa to show me how to shave and woo women
My momma gave me a woman-first view of the world that taught me respect and made me, inside, more of a woman myself—oh, I’m full of arrogance and lust and love—but to this day I abhor so many tendencies among my brothers.
My mother loves to create things by hand. She loves people. She’s not good with money, but, then, she’s had very little practice. She’s the one thing that makes me want to hurry my family situation along, so that I can make sure my children have the full gift of her (grand)parenting.
I love you, mommy.