Tag Archives: moms

Missing Mom

7 Oct

mom

This is the first year since 2014 that I don’t absolutely hate October.

October, my birth month, used to be my favorite month. This was true whether I lived in California, New Jersey, or anywhere in-between. It didn’t matter if I was turning 8 that month or 48; October was what it was all about.

Then my Mom died October 19, 2014. Suddenly October didn’t have the same appeal.

This is the first year I haven’t re-created all the events from the time she first went into the hospital on September 21 until she died in hospice on October 19.

I think I’ve felt that by not remembering all those days I was somehow dishonoring her.

Now I believe re-living all those memories is not what she would want.

She’d want me to remember how when we’d go into New York City from my grandparents’ house on Long Island, she’d stop on the busy sidewalk and stare up at the closest building. Soon there would be a crowd gathered, all looking up, and Mom would swoosh us away with her, leaving the crowd behind, still gaping upward.

She’d want me to remember how when I bought my first pair of spikes, she was so excited because she thought I was finally becoming somewhat feminine. Imagine her surprise when I pulled a pair of softball spikes out of the bag.

She’d want me to remember the childhood days of “Sing Along with Mitch Miller,” when Mom’s beautiful alto voice led us.

She’d want me to remember how she lived, not how she died.

This is how I choose to honor her on the soon to be 5th anniversary of her death. I could say she passed, she got her angel wings, she’s with her holy Father, etc., but she died. That still feels fairly fresh. I suppose it always will.

Sometimes when a loved one dies, the survivors are told to “stay strong.” I always thought this was bullshit. Grieve how you need to grieve. We all grieve differently and at different paces. As a wise acquaintance once told me, there’s a difference between hard and impossible. It is hard to get along without a loved one, but it is not impossible.

It never gets better, but it does get different.

I suppose perhaps one day I’ll be able to write about her without crying, but today is not that day.

I love you Mom.

Angelina Jolie, Mom, and Me: Body Image in Our Mixed-Message Culture

21 May

“Everything is beautiful, in its own way.”

breast-cancer-awareness-logo

I was shocked and saddened by the negative comments on actress Angelina Jolie’s decision to have a preventive double mastectomy. Jolie made this decision after learning she has a mutation in her BRCA1 gene that gave her, according to her doctors, an 87 percent risk of breast cancer and a 50 percent risk of ovarian cancer. The fact that Jolie saw her mother fight breast cancer for 10 years before succumbing to it at the age of 56 no doubt also weighed in her decision.

Some of the same people who believe in a woman’s right of body self-determination when it comes to choices such as abortion wasted no time in criticizing Jolie, going as far as calling what she did “self-mutilation.” Others claimed she should have chosen to smoke marijuana or have better nutrition. This woman is a millionaire and has access to the world’s best advice. Do people really believe that if these “treatments” worked she would not have chosen them?

My Mom lost one breast to cancer in 1989 and the second the following year. She chose to not have reconstruction, opting instead for removable prosthetic breasts. There came a time in Mom’s life when she decided she wasn’t going to wear her prostheses anymore. I have never considered her mutilated; her body shows the remnants of numerous accidents and surgeries that have left a trail of scars almost from head to foot.

Mom developed cancer after menopause, so it is unlikely she has a BRCA mutation. If she had known she had the mutation, I have no doubt she would have chosen the preventive double mastectomy as well. If you are not like Jolie or me, and have not seen your Mom pleading to die, writhing in pain, and suffering the ill effects of various treatments, I don’t think you have any right to comment on another person’s decision (particularly someone like Jolie whom you do not even know).

Beauty lies within. Sounds trite, but it is true. People you might think are “self-mutilated” or who otherwise do not fit society’s image of what a person is supposed to look like were also made in the image of the Holy. Some of the most physically beautiful people I’ve known (as our society defines it) were the ugliest inside.

We are too quick in this culture to judge others by outside appearances. Women, in particular, are judged harshly. We are too thin, too fat, too tan, too pale, too dark, not dark enough, too short, too tall. Our hair is too straight, too curly, too boring, too wild. Our breasts are too small, too large, too saggy, and above all, too tempting to men. Continue reading

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