My mother does this. That is, she dwells in The Possible. She inhabits the spaces between doubts, puttying them with potentiality. Her optimist's thoughts prove sealants against the misanthropic leakings of others, such as I.
What am I most thankful for about my mother? I could list the things here, attempt to anyway, but pages would still come horribly short.
She gave years of her life, completely devoted to me and my sister's education, and development as Individuals. She was patient as I cried over math. She forgave, when I decided melting old candles into one big new candle was a good idea -- in her good cooking pan -- wax is not friends with stainless steel, it turns out. She nudged me out of The Nest, sure that I could fly; sure, that she had prepared me for turblence of the world's air. She coaxes still, with words assuring, "You are not weird, just unique." And, I believe her. Finally, I believe her.
Now? My mathematical tears have retired, and discovered a second career's work over adulthood's complications...and Men. My mother remains a long distant ear, receiving flailing words and a heart's failing faith, through dating, a marriage, graduate school, a chronic disease diagnosis, a divorce, and dating again. Sometimes, I feel reverted to adolescence. Does my need to be mothered never end? I have come to hope it will not...
I can still hear my mom reading my sister and I bedtime stories; sometimes with cojoling, a chapter would be read mid-day, when we just couldn't wait for darkness to fall to again enter the World of Words. I remember her rationing "Bambi" by Felix Salten, chapter by chapter. It was like dessert...too rich to be enjoyed throughout the day.
When I was about 12, at a Swanson Library used book sale, I vividly remembering her reaching up above my head to a shelf, picking out Pride & Prejudice. This was good. This was classic. I would read it, she said. "Have you ever read it?" I asked. "No," she replied, "but it is good." And again, I believed her. That one Austen, her most famous of works, was indeed good, and with my appetite whet for wit and domestic banter, and my introduction to intellectual flirtation, and I embarked on a Jane Austen quest, reading every one of her works I could. Most of these works were procured at consecutive library book sales.
I would lay, belly-flat, under the spell of old words and used pages, upon a blanket with new-born kittens or upon sun soaked straw with a baby calf; in winter, I would curl up in my bed in the middle of the afternoon, and as long as I was reading literature, it was considered to be education and I was left alone in my world. I am forever thankful for these times; for these internal tête-à-têtes. My eyes devoured words and ideas, too old, at times, for my young eyes. I encountered Words Not Allowed through John Steinbeck's East of Eden; and blushed my way through D. H. Lawrence's Lady Chatterly's Lover. I wondered whether my mom would continue recommending these un-read classics as good. I didn't want to ask. I enjoyed blushing.
Right now, I am thankful for my mom's stomach. She has celiac disease too, you see. She was diagnosed, and in the following few months, I was. We both grieved gluten's loss and an altered life, together. When simply feeding ourselves became too much, too overwhelming, too confusing, we could commiserate with each other. Even if it was simply sending an email to her stating "I Hate My Gut," I felt better. This type of misery does love, indeed needs company. We both sit and sip cup after cup of tea, as others eat. We share little excitements such as the discovery of a new gluten free snack bar, or a sale on Lara Bars. Her visits across the plains and to the mountians, have turned into weekend long Foods Fests, making special things, just for our "unique" digestion. There is comfort in crumbless creations, especially those shared.
My mother's soul is beautiful. My mother dwells in Possibilities...and I? I remain a shifting tenant in these quarters, a place in which I find hard to settle. But in her possibilities' promises I find calms of childhood, comforts to which I can return, as a grown woman yet in need of a mother.
I dwell in Possibility—
A fairer House than Prose—
More numerous of Windows—
Of Chambers as the Cedars—
Impregnable of Eye—
And for an Everlasting Roof
The Gambrels of the Sky—
Of Visitors—the fairest—
The spreading wide of narrow Hands
To gather Paradise—
~ Emily Dickinson
~ A Dessert of Possibilities ~
Sautéed Rhubarb in Almond Oil