Archive for November 15th, 2011
My mother died yesterday. Like this lady I found in a field close to a cinder-block shell that served as a small church where younger women with their smallest children were busy saying the rosary, my mother had white hair. She was seventy-nine years old. I was conceived when she was 16 and in love with a handsome French-Canadian young man who was 17 years old. She was Protestant, from a strong Orange family in Ottawa. My father was, of course, a Catholic. Conceived out of wedlock, they married despite the protests of my mother’s parents. Love has a way of ignoring the controls that others attempt to impose. Over the years, she bore nine children – six boys and three girls.
Being a mother begins with giving birth to a child. Being a mother ends when death claims the body, at least for the one who was the mother. For the surviving children, one’s mother continues to live within. The spirit of the mother somehow manages to also migrate to the children of her children, even to great-grandchildren. My mother was a grandmother and a great-grandmother. That which defines a woman as a mother goes beyond the act of giving birth and raising children. There is something that is about a spiritual energy, almost a power that seizes the being and leaves one possessed, almost a victim of the archetypal energy of the universal mother; a priestess of Gaia, the mother of the earth and all life.
No one is all saint or all sinner – one is only human. The only way we can measure each other, if we ever can, is in terms of whether or not the harm done was intentional. Of course, this is rare. And when it comes to my mother, there was little, if any intent to ever harm her children. All children are harmed by their parents, both parents, a wounding of the spirit that is absolutely necessary in order for the children to grow and mature into adulthood. The greatest harm a mother could ever do would be to create conditions in which her child stayed forever a child, never having the need to differentiate, to separate from the mother. Thankfully, my mother not perfection as it allowed me to grow up and become a man.
Children have a vastly differing understanding of their mother than the grandchildren. The veil of motherhood is somehow more permeable when there is a shift to grandmother. There is a different closeness and a healthy distance that allows the real woman to emerge. My mother is loved by her grandchildren and her grandchildren. Their love is different that the love felt by the immediate children. The children grew up feeling that archetypal energy of the great mother and in the process, each child develops a mother-complex. That is just the way it is. What happens with the mother-complex has nothing to do with the actual, personal mother; what happens next is a work of becoming more conscious as individuals as a child of this personal mother, separating what is archetypal from the flesh and blood woman who gave the child, now adult, birth. With growing consciousness, one is able to strip away projections, fears, hurts and find the woman who is the personal mother.
With consciousness comes, not forgiveness but an “eyes wide-open” realisation and appreciation of the woman known as mother.
Mom, I love you, now and for all time that will be.