What a weekend this was.
Friday was an important anniversary, which I always mark. January 20, 1980 is the date that my mother, Nell Rose Schwakhofer née Martin died from cancer. The easiness or difficulty of this day depends on where I am in my inner world and can be impacted by the Zeitgeist.
This year, I found myself wondering what her response would be to the US presidential election and today’s inauguration. I didn’t have the privilege of continuing my relationship with her into my late teens and into adulthood, but I have many memories of her response to the world.
When I was about 5 and carelessly repeated derogatory slang words to describe African American and Hispanic kids, she gently and firmly corrected me.
When my big sister, at age 17, became a feminist, wore jeans to her high school graduation and started calling herself ‘Ms’, my mom supported her.
My mother Nell was opposed to California Governor Ronald Reagan for his violent crackdown on student protesters at UC, Berkeley, for his ‘welfare reforms’ which punished the poorest people, for his anti-environmental policies, ‘Once you’ve seen one redwood tree, you’ve seen ’em all’. and for his contradictory ‘pro-life’ and ‘pro-capital punishment’ stance.
In 1973, when she had gone back to college (at the age of 50) she came home wearing a black armband in support of the fledgling American Indian Rights Movement.
She was a supporter of NPR and public television.
When she became too unwell to work, our family had to rely on Medicare (which the incoming administration wants to slash) to pay for her end of life care.
I am so proud of who she was and the values that she carried out into the world,and instilled in me.
As I do every year on this date, I went out and bought some roses to arrange next to a photograph I have of my Mom.
I also planted some narcissi bulbs into some Victorian terracotta pots I have in a pretty French wire basket. I felt good to put some living things into some earth, in anticipation of their growing and blossoming.
Saturday January 21st was a day filled with women and men, across the world, marching for equality, diversity, social justice, inclusion and many other things dear to many hearts.
My husband and I had intended to drive up to Bristol and join in, but that morning, I awoke needing the comfort and security of Home. I was really torn, but in the end, I paid attention to what I needed. I made a donation to Planned Parenthood because women’s reproductive rights is one of the things that I would march for.
I was there in Spirit, along with the millions of women and men worldwide who are standing up for a positive way forward. I felt my mother’s spirit too, very close by.