What is this Occasion?
by Lydia Nolan
©  May 23, 2011
(revisited: Mar 20, 2013)

There is no real occasion for this, although I suppose I could call it a near Mother’s Day thought. And I’ve posted it before, I think. But I believe it deserves re-posting, as I must keep reminding myself of it.

I remember my mother when I was a small child, and then I remember my mother when I was a grown woman: what a difference a lifetime makes...

I saw two quotes today that I want to begin with:

Life is something that happens to you while you're making other plans.

~ Margaret Miller

and then:
Life is not a dress rehearsal.
~ Rose Tremain

The first thing that struck me was the fact that these quotes were both written by women, and that both quotes sounded as though they should be read or said at the same time, or near the same time. The second thing I noticed was that the theme was much the same: a life lived with remorse. How, you say, did I get that from those quotes?

The first one by Margaret Miller is cynical or satirical perhaps, but nonetheless, I can feel the grating of her teeth when she says it. I can sense the tapping of her finger while perhaps smoking with the other hand, or pushing her hair back, maybe even pushing back a few tears that are being squeezed from the heart. There is very little hope in this one. She seems to have come to the end of her life, and found herself wanting...but it's already there at the finished line.

Rose Tremain, on the other hand, has a bit of hope in her quote. She seems to be giving it to others, where she perhaps may be finished, yet she is giving a word of advice to others that this is the only time they have to make it right....one life to live....We shall never pass this way again, as the song goes...

These two quotes can be essays of discovery in themselves, separate and specialized, but at present, I only wanted to use them to point my focus back to my mother.

My mother was a beautiful person as a young woman. She was a singer, and she was a very creative woman. She drew model-like figures, and could create any kind of piece of clothing—and even hats!— from ragged cloth and materials. She probably should have been the designer she wanted to be all her life. She was a tremendous conversationalist in her youth as well, and her smile and laughter was quick-witted and delectable....No one got passed her without some show of authenticity.

But by the time I came into the world--and being the last of six children she had--she was in her own mind 'ruined' by life and the cards she played. She never realized her dreams of being a fashion designer. She never sang for the masses. She never taught on the subject matter in which she was most astute. She had six children, married a minister, was poor as a church mouse, as they say, and she was bitter and angry most of the time, suffered from the ravages of tuberculosis, and finally lived as an old woman, bitterly whispering nostalgically about her past and what she COULD have done with it....She told me, too, that I was going to do what she didn't...Heavy load for a young child...

My mother was a beautiful woman. I remember as a child, how tall she seemed to me, and how warm and soft she was when I got to wrap my arms around her. She was a sales lady and wore white blouses with black skirts, and black high hills--always... She smelled of perfume like a bundle of flowers, and powder of the Gods, to a small girl.

Later, before her death, she had bruised, purple-covered legs stiff as plasterboard, with pus oozing from her pores, I don't know why. She could barely walk anymore. She was so thin I was afraid she would break if she tried to do anything. Her eyes were all that remained.
Her eyes, staring at me, saying...
"You are a good woman, mija (daughter), you are very good..."

I had a dream last night, about leaving life and not having taken care of things, which is why my mother comes to memory from those two quotes I saw. I was having a serious conversation—myself and God—regarding not having even the funds for a funeral had I died today....I don't want to leave a portfolio of bills to my children, whom were brought into this world by a poor church mouse...

I was discussing inside myself in my dream that I should be arranging things now, as I am not so young anymore, and though I may live another 20 or 30 years....I may not live another day....I should be ready. I'm not talking about rapture, I'm just talking about dying and leaving the world to your family, friends, and everyone else, and leaving it with just a little bit of goodness; just a little more kindness, love, warmth, laughter...honestly....authenticity....NOT BITTERNESS....Bitterness comes from not doing what we dreamed of doing, not being who we dreamed we were supposed to be or wanted to be...

I miss my mother, you cannot know...I miss my father, too, who died when I was a teen-ager, so I didn't have him very long. But I think I miss my mother so much because I know her secret and why she was bitter...Another woman's quote comes to mind:

The bitterest tears shed over graves are for words left unsaid and deeds left undone.

~Harriet Beecher Stowe

(I am trying very hard not to make any of the three quotes abovementioned my epitaph upon my grave.)


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