Oct 26


hands in flame

hands in flame

When I lost my mother in 1997, I felt I’d lost the well from whence I’d sprung. More and more, her friends tell me I remind them of her, how they see her face in mine, how my words hold her steel…

It’s enough to give someone a crisis of identity, or at least question nature versus nurture. I am no braggart here: she was extraordinary, and I am very much her daughter. It’s difficult to be the remaining glimmer of her work, to burn bright enough to fill that shadow for some who knew her. I was deeply connected to her when she took her last breath on an appallingly beautiful April Fool’s Day: she slid free, laughing. I think in that final moment, the dying discover something we cannot know. I’m in no hurry, but since I was 24 years old, I’ve wondered what was so &*^@*&*$^@* funny.

Knowing my mother as a person instead of an idealized SuperMom has been an important part of my work. Eudora Welty, Sly Matron Saint of Jackson, warned me to never miss the connotation of a thing because you love it. Over the years, I’ve learned amazing things about my mother. I’ve studied her work like a scholar. In a turn of miraculously nutty events, my cousin married into the family of my Mom’s high school friend. I have so many new stories of a naughty scamp of a woman who would one day become my mother. I am deeply grateful for these chances to see these glimpses of my mother before she joined the Mighty Dead.

Deep calls to Deep, Blood calls to Blood… this time of year speaks to ties forged in DNA, in the family we choose, and in the work that inspires, invigorates and influences our lives. Whose life, whose memory, whose influence wraps around you like a mantle in the darkening of the year? Whose heartbeat do you hear across the veil, echoed in the thrum of your veins?

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