OF WEEKENDS AND THE INTERNET—AND OF THE DEATH OF MY MOTHER
I love my weekends, but tend to treat them in a decidedly illogical fashion.
On the one hand, they constitute what I consider to be an essential period of rest (Saturday is my day where I feel I don’t have to do anything).
On the other hand, I normally work quite hard through them—the difference being that I normally work on things I want to do—as opposed to have to do.
But work is not rest, so I freely concede that my behavior is decidedly illogical. But, since when were humans logical—let alone writers.
The internet is proving to be marvelous in terms of surfacing and maintaining family connections I didn’t know existed—and of fanning the flames of friendships. My sister, Lucy, seems to be the Facebook expert whereas my chosen mode of communication is the e-mailed letter. Lucy’s approach is decidedly more time efficient, but I feel the long letter is still worth writing—even though each one takes a ridiculous amount of time (I am no more than a two finger typist—and slow at that).
Of course, that is partly the point. Content is always the primary thing, but a manifest display of time and effort also pays tribute to the recipient—and is that not the overall intent? I rarely write a letter these days without trying to say “Thank you” in some way; or as a minimum, to acknowledge another person’s dignity. People have a real need to be recognized—something that I did not understand when I was younger. A short note is tokenism. A decent letter is both recognition—and a hug. Or such is my belief.
Such communications apart, I particularly enjoy the way photographs seem to be resurrected. Today’s is that of my mother as a child—and she looks startlingly like my daughter, Evie. Sister Lucy seems to have a secret stash of such photos. They appear on Facebook and I grab them. Mine are all in store unfortunately.
Since I have written a great deal about my mother in this blog, the above photo may be of some interest. She was decidedly photogenic when a young thing, but lost that attribute as she got older. She became self-conscious and tended to freeze. As a consequence, there are surprisingly few photos of her as an adult. However, her physical appearance—though striking—was never her dominant feature. That was, without question, her personality—with all its strengths (which were formidable) and all its faults (which were many). I regarded her as charismatic and charming—when so inclined—but dangerous to the point of destruction.
As she grew older I am told she mellowed. Perhaps, on a day to day basis, she did. I just know that during out last conversation—which was by telephone when she was dying in Spain—I was living in Ireland at the time—she was about as unpleasant as a human being can be. As normal—as was her way—she went for the jugular, and zeroed into what she thought would hurt me most—a negative opinion of my writing. She was scathing. “You were never very good,” she said. Harsh words from a dying mother.
I was too stunned to reply adequately; and my young children were present. Alzheimer's, I was told. I think not. I think I was hearing from a deeply troubled woman—and I felt nothing but relief when she died. That is still my feeling when I think of her passing. Nonetheless, I freely acknowledge her profound effect on my creativity—such as it is—and the simple fact that she was a remarkable woman.
Yes, I know that is pretty sad—and I deeply regret it. But, it is the way it was—and is.