memories


Random quote of the day:

“One lives in the hope of becoming a memory.”

—Antonio Porchia, Voices (tr. W. S. Merwin)

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Lucy and Ethel, Justin Bieber, or the Kardashian Klan. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Random quote of the day:

“Memories
Are hunting horns whose sound dies in the breeze…”

—Guillaume Apollinaire, “Cors de Chasse”

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Lucy and Ethel, Justin Bieber, or the Kardashian Klan. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Random quote of the day:

“What matters in life is not what happens to you but what you remember and how you remember it.”

—Gabriel Garcia Márquez, quoted in The Guardian, 21 January 2001 from his then memoir-in-progress

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Lucy and Ethel, Justin Bieber, or the Kardashian Klan. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

This morning on National Public Radio I was listening to Sherman Alexie discuss his troubled relationship with his mother and his new memoir, You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me. Memoirs, it seems to me, and Alexie affirmed, are for those who don’t get the chance to reconcile their complicated feelings towards parents and other loved ones. Oh yes, there are celebratory memoirs, to be sure, but when you come from a twisted root, it’s hard to write the sweet without delving into the sour.

The discussion triggered a lot of things for me. While I listened, I thanked God, thanked God, that for the last five years of my mother’s life, I was her caregiver. Those were difficult years, but… I got that sacred chance to reconcile my complicated feelings—and I think my mother did as well.

I used to call my mother the Dragon Lady with my friends who knew her well. She was hard-charging, always right, full of anger and unreconciled childhood crap of her own—but charming as hell, funny, creative, with an amazing life force, and a remarkable personality that drew people in and made them love her. Both sides were genuine, but she generally saved the Dragon Lady side for those she loved. People always told me I had the coolest mom. And I did. Except for when she was Dragon Lady.

I harbored so much anger and so much resentment for so many years. Therapy helped, but it didn’t leach the poison in me, just gave me mechanisms for coping with it.

In those last five years of Mom’s life, though, the roles were reversed. She was the child, I was the parent. At first, Dragon Lady was still there, fighting to retain her power, fighting to get the most out of life that she could in diminished circumstances. But even when she was most frustrating, she was so damned courageous. Always. For me, being a full-time caregiver, working full-time, and trying to find a way to get Mom to and from dialysis three times a week, I didn’t have the physical or emotional resources to carry my bad feelings forward. Gradually, I released them—or they released me.

And a wonderful thing happened. My mother began changing, too. The Dragon Lady never apologized for anything, ever; she said thank you rarely and never said “I love you” unless someone said it first. In her last years she became gentle, grateful, considerate in a way I’d never seen. She frequently told me “I love you, baby girl” without any prompting at all. And it became very easy to reply, “I love you, baby mom.” It wasn’t just that I didn’t have time for anger and resentment anymore—they really, truly went away. All that remained was love. For her, for me.

I won’t kid you. Those years were not easy. By the time my mom died I was stretched so thin I don’t know how much longer I could have gone on and not torn to shreds. But I really think my mother died in a state of grace, and that grace extended to me.

It nearly crushed me when she passed. But at least I had gotten that incomparable gift of reconciliation.

About a year after she died, I got the notion of writing a memoir, and worked in a fever for about a week. But it was impossible to write the sweet without the sour. I had purged myself of those hard feelings, and I didn’t miss them. They had poisoned my life for a long time and I really did not want them back. I let go of the memoir and held on to my state of grace and my reconciliation. I am so grateful for them. They are a rare and precious gift, mysterious as grace always is.

I love you, baby mom.

Random quote of the day:

“Memory is a crazy woman who hoards colored rags and throws away food.”

—Austin O’Malley, Keystones of Thought

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Lucy and Ethel, Justin Bieber, or the Kardashian Klan. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Random quote of the day:

“I carry inside myself my earlier faces, as a tree contains its rings.”

—Tomas Tranströmer, Memories Look At Me


Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Lucy and Ethel, Justin Bieber, or the Kardashian Klan. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

 

Random quote of the day:

“Memory is the most important asset of human beings. It’s a kind of fuel; it burns and it warms you.”

—Haruki Murakami, The Paris Review, Issue 170, Summer 2004

 

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Lucy and Ethel, Justin Bieber, or the Kardashian Klan. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Random quote of the day:

“Memoir is not an act of history but an act of memory, which is innately corrupt.”

—Mary Karr, The Liars’ Club: A Memoir

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Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Siegfried and Roy, Leonard Maltin, or the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

 

IF

The Firewolf

Some years ago, when I was still doing art inspired by American Indian sprituality, I had a powerful dream. In this dream, I was gazing into a campfire out in the woods. An enormous grey wolf emerged from the fire, leaping over my head and knocking me flat on my back, his fur trailing sparks of fire that left my eyes dazzled. He ran off and disappeared into the darkness of the forest.

When I woke, I thought perhaps this was a power dream sent to me by the wolf spirit. My teacher had encouraged me to take such dreams seriously and to use them in the artwork. As it happened, I was in the process of making a medicine shield, an object inspired by personal visions, or vision quests, and used by various tribes to protect them spiritually. I figured the dream had sent me the image I needed for it.

When I presented the finished shield to my teacher, she was amazed. “What inspired you to use this image?” she asked.

I told her about the dream.

“You already knew about the firewolf, then?”

“Firewolf? No, I’ve never heard of that.”

She went on to explain that in the traditions of some tribes, fire is considered a wolf and must be treated with respect. You must remember to thank the firewolf for its help in keeping you warm and cooking your food, for the positive benefits it brings, or it might turn on you.

“It’s really significant,” she said, “that you had that dream and had never heard of the firewolf before.”

I thought so, too, and was amazed. I wondered briefly if it might be a case of cryptomnesia, where one is exposed to an idea but doesn’t recall the exposure. But whatever it was, I was thrilled.

I thought I’d write about it for the folklore blog. I duly set about looking up the firewolf legends on the internet in order to provide some references. And therein lies the problem. I found pagans named Firewolf, fictional stories about fire wolves, games featuring fire wolves, so clearly the concept is in the zeitgeist. But I found almost nothing about American Indian traditions concerning fire and wolves. According to Native American Mythology A to Z by Facts on File, Incorporated, the Ute Indians believed Wolf brought fire to mankind:

Tales frequently involve the theft of fire from the being that possessed it. Often the bringer of fire was an animal or a bird, such as Beaver (Nez Perce), Coyote (many traditions), Deer (Nootka), Fox (Jicarilla Apache), Muskrat (Anishinabe), Turkey (Cherokee), or Wolf (Ute). Grandmother Spider (Spider Woman) stole fire for the Choctaw. In one Cherokee tale, a water spider was responsible for the gift of fire.

So, I don’t know what tradition my teacher was referring to. Indian mythology is not a monolith—each tribe has their own set of stories and beliefs. Sometimes there’s overlap, but each tradition is unique, and there are many, many stories out there. I just have no idea which one she meant.

And the cryptomnesia idea is playing through my mind again, once I saw that the Utes believed Wolf brought the first fire. My mother, you see, grew up on the Ute reservation. It’s entirely possible I heard something along the way.

Which does nothing to diminish the vividness and power of that dream. That remains a gift of the unconscious realm, the realm where all things are possible, where mysteries are far more important than answers.

IF

Mother, with Firewolf

Random quote of the day:

“Memory is sometimes like a malignant hedgehog, running out of the shadows to stab you with a thousand ridiculous little needles.”

—Kathleen Baker, “Monday Got Me,” blog: Kathleen, Kage and the Company, March 5, 2012

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Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Siegfried and Roy, Leonard Maltin, or the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

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