Tag Archives: dead mother

A Stitch in Time

I sold a sewing machine last night, for far less than I’d wanted to, and found myself ever so emotional after the fact.

I remember the day my mother bought that 1917 Singer (Model 027) oak-cabinet sewing machine, some 30 years ago. We’d had a yard sale, with my parents constantly on their “reduce the clutter and make some bucks for the mortgage” kick. An old lady came by to browse, admiring a couple of the antiques my mother was trying to unload so she could obsessively pick up more antiques, feeding her  new passion.

They got gabbing, as yard-salers are so likely to do. Naturally the old woman started talking about this old sewing machine. In the end, Mom took a walk, bought the thing, and Dad got stuck not only cleaning up the yard sale, but taking all their earnings over to pay off the old woman and tote the heavy damn machine home.

I’m sad. I’ll miss the machine and what it represented. Memories of Mom hunched over and pumping the treadle, stitching together my clothes and bedding. A rolling shadow across a winter night’s living room wall: Mom and her mission to clothe us all.

The last time she ever sewed on it was sometime in ’98, making a fleece jacket for my almost-a-toddler nephew then, hunter-green with teddy-bears all over it. I found the patterns in the bottom of the machine yesterday, then decided to recycle those, too.

The woman who bought it was a new grandmother, moving into a smaller apartment and excited about the life ahead of her as she’s about to turn 60.

My mother never hit 60.

It was a bitter-sweet night. I fought some tears as I imagined how much my mother would approve of that woman taking possession of the machine. I remembered sadly the excitement she had for being a grandmother herself, the oath she made me give her about how good an aunt I’d always be after she died.

Our lives don’t go how we want them to, they never do. Little things around us can remind us of that. As much as I loved that machine, I think it made me remember sadness more than happiness. Never a good thing.

***

I’m 37 in about 6 weeks now. Sometime before then, I have to arrange for a windsurfing lesson. My mother did windsurfing only once, and I still remember it.

She went with my brother — it wasn’t my kinda thing (read: meant actually using energy and burning calories) — but I remember how the next few years began to be of rapid change for her, as if doing the windsurfing was her way of saying I’m Changed, I’m Tough, I Want More.

She then learned to sail, got her real estate license, separated from my father, climbed mountains in China, raced boats in the Mediterranean, and had an affair with a sailor who lived on his yacht, all in the decade before her death.

I would very much like to become my mother’s daughter, and look to be on schedule to do so 10 years earlier than she did. It makes me laugh that I now see what role her windsurfing may have played in her life, since I didn’t think of that connection when I seized the “70%-off” Groupon deal for a $15, 2-hour lesson — mostly because my goal had been to learn to surf this year, but becoming unemployed meant that couldn’t happen for financial reasons, and I thought “Windsurfing’s a good consolation prize.”

It’s funny how life works. I can surmise it was the windsurfing that threw open her threshold of change. I’ll never know for sure, but I’d like to believe so, as my lesson looms in the next two weeks.

I’m in this place of late where I’m thinking of where I’m going next — the long-term future I face in life, and what all might entail with that. My mother was in this place in the months before her death, before she even knew she was sick.

It’s a very weird place to be now. They say that the mid-30s are when a young woman misses her dead mother the most — because she’s now becoming the woman she saw her mother as being, a woman she never saw the “after” phase for, because her mother died too young. The loss, they say, can become more core-shattering and filled with a deeper longing than she’s ever experienced before, even years after thinking she’s done “mourning,” just because of that experiential transition between ages that we all go through. Without the corresponding parental figure there, it’s sort of a more bump-in-the-night experience, one of loss and wonderment.

I certainly understand that these days. Some of my recent accomplishments have rung painfully hollow, leaving me emptier than I could have imagined, mostly because I know it was so important for my mother to find herself as a stronger, more independent woman than she felt she’d been, and that she would really enjoy watching the process I’ve been going through. I can imagine the things she’d say, and that hurts at times.

It hurts today.

There’s nothing a child wants more than to show their parents just how far they’ve come. I never had that chance with my mother, someone I admired more than most people I’ve ever met. To get robbed of that is a lifetime of loss and “something’s missing”.

I’m not feeling sorry for myself, it just is what my life is. I wouldn’t be who I am with my mother alive today, so I’m not really wishing she never died. I don’t know what I wish. I just know I feel this whirlwind around how full of “searching” she was at her death — like I am now — and how torn she was about her obligations.

And it was all tied up in that little sewing machine that’d been eating up a third of my storage space for the better part of the last decade.

And now it’s gone.

But here I am, still on this journey to take me someplace that I think my mother could tell me an awful lot about, from first-hard experience, if only she was still alive.

But she’s not.

So I get to experience it all, and find myself in quiet moments at the end of the night, when I get to think, “Gee, how would Mom have felt today? What would she have learned? What would she tell me?”

It’s been eleven years this week that she died.

I always worried I’d forget her face, her smell, the way her hands felt when she held mine to console me. And maybe there’s an aspect I forget, but somehow it’s more real to me than ever before, it hits me deeper than it ever has.

They say the first sign of true adulthood is when you really start understanding where your parents were coming from, what they had to endure to get where they were going.

Lately, I feel like I was a child until this year. Now I really get it. I get what kept my mother awake at night, what made her want for more.

When youngins in their 20s tell me how mature they are, I keep chuckling, because I remember how wise I thought I was (because everyone told me I was) at such a young age.

I didn’t know jack. Still likely don’t.

Funny, selling an old antique and getting a little cash for groceries proved to be one of the most emotional experiences of the last year for me, and one of the largest lessons in how I’m Not That Kid anymore.

I’m not that kid. Not a kid. I’m a woman pushing 40 who’s learning more and more of the simple truths that makes quiet everyday-days feel A Little Bit More Meaningful.

Goodbye, sewing machine. Hello, wisdom.

And please, don’t do the whole “Oh, I’m sure your mother is watching” blah-de-blah thing, okay? It just rings so hollow sometimes, regardless of how you intend it. I know. Trust me, I fuckin’ know. But thanks. Just don’t.

10 Years On: Rembering My Dead Mother

I haven’t been funny in days.

I’m moody and full of vitamin-Cunt tonight.

I couldn’t figure it out.

What’s eating me? Why am I spiralling into a darker and darker place? Why do I hate the idea of attending any of the 3 parties to which I was invited tonight? Why does the idea of just being civil to others fill me with a questionable revulsion I can’t fathom?

Why? Why? Why? Continue reading

Stumbling Through Sunday

Do you ever have those days when something hits you and you begin to think that, this day, for whatever reason, will come to be an important one in some grand scheme of things?

I’m having one of those days. I feel like it’s a day on which my mindset’s going to shift in a new direction. I don’t know why, but I just feel like I’m learning something new about myself this weekend. It’s not really hitting just yet but it’s there.

See, it’s one of those days I’m going to remember for good or bad, anyhow, ‘cos it’s the seventh anniversary of Mom’s passing. I’m in a pretty good mood today, though. It’s not like I’m down at all, I’m not. I’m feeling pretty good about things. I’m thinking a lot, though. I was out all night last night and fell asleep on a couch, made my way home at 5:30 in the morning, timed to catch the sunrise, then I slept another four hours at home. I think riding home on a quiet Sunday morning with a late summer sunrise was a pretty contemplative start to my day, and sleeping on it a bit wasn’t such a bad thing, either.

I may never be the book-smartest person anyone ever knows, but when it comes to just thinking, I’m a great thinker. I love to ponder my life and the things that go down in it. There’s that saying, A life unexamined is a life unlived. I cannot tell you how profoundly I associate with that sentiment. It’s in reliving my life through my thoughts and recollections that I really glean the meaning of it all. I guess it’s why I’m most saddened when I see people scouring the newsmedia for interviews with their idols or gossip on the stars because I just feel there’s so much more each of us can learn from our own lives that we choose to bypass simply because the western world feels it’s best to “move on” after any life experience had. Why in God’s name anyone should feel the need to live vicariously through others is something I’ll never, ever understand. Fucking weird.

And moving on, that’s just silly. I mean, hell, people come and go all the time, but no matter how impermanent we feel things to be, it’s only that way when we choose to have it be that way. I reflect on my mom from time to time, though she’s falling further away with every passing year. There’s an echo to memories now as if they’re almost due to fade away. Slippage, that’s what it is. One little bit more, and poof! Gone they’ll be.

But at least I’ve had another dance with them, you know? And it’s all written down now. I feel good about that. I wrote this on Friday and it really tripped my head. I have been so angry — so angry, so long — at the amount of writer’s block I had. I still am, too. For six years! And look, LOOK at all I’ve written in just 21 months! More than a thousand postings, probably a couple hundreds drafts, and hundreds more private writings. My GOD, imagine what I’ve missed out on recording! Six– six years, all that block!

I just never realized why the loss of that was so important to me, but this weekend, I get it. I understand. I’m angrier about the writer’s block that I am my mother’s death. How strange is that? But I guess it’s just that I realize what it is I’ve lost of my mom, but I’ll never know what I lost in writing. Know what I mean?

Strange realization, that.I have book ideas, you know. A movie idea, children’s books… So much to write, and all that time lost.

Still, I’m glad. I’m still in a good mood. Now I’ve got a reminder of why I write. For awhile there, I was beginning to wonder why I bother. I was bitter. I was a little too caught up in depression and in turn was realizing that I simply didn’t feel like having a record. The thing is, that’s only in the moment. For a moment, I feel like this shouldn’t be recorded for posterity, but down the line, now I know how much I wish I’d been recording more… You know? Life passes so quickly. It’s a shame to have wasted any. It’s tragic to forget any.

You see. I have to start podcasting now. That is my Sunday night. I’ll be heading in for about 3 hours work today, and when I do, I’m buying an expensive steak, then a bunch of quality veggies, and I’ll make a nice supper later, but in between all that will be finally playing with my podcasting stuff. I’ve cancelled everything I had going. It’s podcasting time.

I’ve been avoiding it. I’m scared, truth be told. Feeling a little shy, am I.Yes, I get performance anxiety, too. A lot. I’m also having a “Gee, I mean, what have I really got to say after all?” moment. I’m just some girl who grew up in a big black seaside house throwing her two cents into the cosmic mix. I ain’t all that, baby. It’s hard to reconcile who you are on the inside to what the world sees of you. So what have I really got to say? God, all I have to do is go back and read some then, haven’t I?

Anyhow, I don’t want to do the podcasting, but I know how much I’ll hate myself if I don’t, and I also know it’s nothing more than fear, so I gotta just kick my own ass and get it down. Tonight, like I say, it’s gonna go down. No, that still doesn’t mean there’s a firm airdate. Soon. But hopefully all the problems I’ve had with Dell and my new computer have run their circle and now there’ll be no more external delays. If it’s all on me, then it’s gonna come together quick. It’s like fucking for the first time — there’s that heavy mix of anticipation and fear of failure. When you’re finally done, the orgasms’s not awesome because the sex was great, but because it’s done, it’s over, and from now on, you know each other and you don’t have to worry about the unknown element causing any grief. The dance has been danced, and the game is on. I wanna get myself to that stage: fuck and be done with it, and then the cherry’s popped and the game’s in play.

Like I sez — soon. (I’ve been moaning about my Dell grief on the other blog for weeks now. Seems I’ve been explicit enough with Dell about HOW MUCH I FUCKING HATE THEM RIGHT NOW that they’ve become a lover with something to prove: I’ve just received an email saying that should I be running into anymore technical problems, I’m to notify them with my case number and a tech will be sent ASAP. Right, okay then. We’ll see.)

Motherless on Mother’s Day

I’m a daughter without a mother, and anyone who’s read me awhile knows that it’s not only what you would read on the back of my collectible Bloggers-of-Now baseball card, but it’s a fact that absolutely defines me to my core.

My mother dying destroyed me – utterly, brutally, without a doubt, destroyed me. Every now and then, someone comes along and gushes, “Gee, Steff, how’d you get so darn smart?”

I couldn’t tell ya, honestly, other than those three or so years after my mother’s death left me swimming in alcohol and as fucked up as any person’s ever been. I was a wise, smart girl before she died, and I’ve come back to who I was, but when I was shaken off-course, I’ll tell you, I fell hard and I fell far.

Climbing out of oblivion can take a hella long time, kiddies. There just ain’t no compass for that climb. I did much of my ascent over the course of five years. It’s been nearly seven since my mother left for the great gig in the sky, but over those years I’ve come to decide that the woman I am now was worth the price I paid through my mother’s horrid cancer death. It’s unfortunate, this not-having-my-cake-and-eating-it-too thing, but if her dying is the only way I’d have learned to be this person, well, so be it. Like I have a fucking choice?

I’m not writing about sex today, because I don’t care about sex today. Today’s a mental health day. My loverman’s off to see his granny, since his mother’s dead as well, and maybe we’ll hook up tonight for a couple hours, and maybe we won’t; it depends on how much the alien mind probe (aka 20 hours OT) has messed with him. My day’s plans include being a rebel and barbecuing burgers for breakfast with my brother before we head out on a grueling mountain bike ride around the city and through Vancouver’s legendary UBC Endowment Lands, home to some 70+ kilometres of primo cycling and hiking trail within city limits. And THAT is why I live in the coolest fucking city in the world.

Y’know, probably the most important lesson I’ve ever learned is that of knowing when to say “fuck you” to the world, when to unplug and go your own way. I don’t take calls from relatives on Mother’s Day, because as much as I know they’re thinking of me, they’ll never understand what I lost, nor what haunts me still. And that’s loss, pure and simple. It’s different, depending who the person was to you, and I think probably few deaths equal the impact of our mothers’. There comes a point when you just have to accept that other people care, but they just don’t know jack about what’s going on for you. Turn off the phones, ignore the emails, and do your own damned thang, baby.

We want to think we move past lost, but we don’t. We learn to assimilate it into who we are. It becomes ever-present in the back of our mindscape, like a shadow, or something we always know and need but seldom refer to, like a social insurance number.

Some days it hurts to realize who it is we’ve become in the face of such things, but some days it’s worth celebrating. I think burgers off the barbecue for breakfast with my big brother before a bitchin’ bike ride around this far is exactly what I’ve needed.

For those who can’t fathom the loss of their mothers, or for those who understand it all too well, it’s probably a good time to point out that one of the best things I’ve ever written, IMHO, is what I wrote about my mother last August on the sixth anniversary of her death. It’s on my other blog, and it’ll probably help you get to know me a little better, too.

Meanwhile, I’ll be back tomorrow with your regularly scheduled smut. Sometime Monday will be bondage, baby. Until then, restrain yourself. ;)

Happy Motherless Day, folks. Gimme my burgah! (Oh, right… I’m the grillmaster.)

Unleashing Your Vixen: Some Serious Thoughts

Do you ever have those moments when clarity comes up behind you with a baseball bat and beats the hell out of you?

You get up, groggy, woozy, disoriented, but shit, you know better now, man.

I’ve been avoiding getting into this Vixen thing. The problem with procrastination is that you avoid things so much that you fail to even become aware of why the avoidance is there in the first place.

But then clarity comes along with that fucking bat and, sooner or later, you clue the hell in. Like I did about 30 minutes ago. For some reason, today I feel like I’m Frodo walking across that marshland with all the corpses under the surface of the pondwater. I feel like I’m about to go under, like there’s some kinda tether wrapped around my heart and strung to the reeds below the surface, tugging me down and trying to seduce me into the dark.

It sounds really intense, but it’s not as bad as it sounds. Sure, it feels like that, but it’s a really surreal feeling, like there’s a bubble around me, like there’s all these dead little faces floating around me of people who think they’re alive, but really just aren’t. That I’m sitting around in utter silence on a freezing day in February might be adding to those Dali-esque proportions, so maybe I’ll just browse my iTunes here and stoke up a change of pace. When in doubt, go with the Butthole Surfers, that’s my policy.

This week, the week that follows Valentine’s Day, is the least favourite of my year. In a span of six days falls the anniversary of when the docs found a grapefruit-sized tumour in my mother’s belly and her birthday. Yes, that’s been on my mind. She has been on my mind an awful lot, particularly in relation to this topic. I, more than anything else in her life, am my mother’s legacy, and that’s not arrogance, that’s the admiration of a daughter who had a mother deserving of it. I am my mother’s daughter – in most ways.

If you met me in real life, you’d see a lot of similarities to the person on these pages. I’m boisterous, brazen, demure, open, scathing — whatever you want to call me, I’m an awful lot of those things. But my mother blazed that trail, baby. She was a model in her youth, she was hot when she died, didn’t look over 50. She had red hair, green eyes, and she was a risk-taker and a daredevil. She sold real estate, raced yachts, and wasn’t afraid of a fucking thing (most of the time).

She was never open about sex. I doubt she ever became a vixen. I bet she never trusted a man enough. I don’t think she ever got past the shame of what sex symbolized in her demented little worldview on the subject. My father and I were recently talking, musing about whether she had been sexually assaulted at age 12. My father grew up in her neighbourhood, they were friends all their lives, and he remembered when she changed, as if she just broke. He said something was never the same after she was 12, that day they came home to find her scantily clad, rocking barefoot under the farm’s kitchen table, shaking and sobbing.

This Vixen thing… it’s a personal mission for me, really. I’ve been the legacy of dysfunctional views on sex. I’ve seen what a loveless marriage does not only to the participants but the children involved. I’ve seen what happens to men (including my father) who get neglected and taken for granted, what happens to women forgotten by their lovers, and it all breaks my heart. It’s a really sad thing to behold, the loss of someone’s sexual side.

When I was young, I fell for that fascist Ayn Rand, and one quote stands out after all these years, that “avoiding death does not equal living life.” We’ve somehow fallen into this trap of “surviving” life. Yeah, you go right ahead. Survive. I’m gonna live, thanks.

And that’s the problem, most of us are content to merely survive our jobs, survive our relationships, whatever it takes to make it to the other side with the least resistance.

Being a vixen, or in the case of the men out there, an attentive, daring, open lover who’s receptive to his lover’s needs, takes guts. It doesn’t happen from just thinking it’d be nice to go there. It’s about actively pushing your fears and apprehensions. It’s about saying you’re not scared about being judged. But mostly, it’s about trusting this lover of yours you claim you trust. It’s about putting your money where your mouth is, baby.

It’s too late for my mother, and I caught the bus last decade, man, so I’m good, but there are a lot of folks out there who must learn how much more fun life is when they learn that being vulnerable doesn’t necessarily mean becoming hurt*, it means sucking the marrow out of life and taking the chances you’ve been resisting.

Mostly, though, it’s about really having great new experiences. So, you know, like they says, you better get busy livin’ or get busy dyin’, but make your fucking choices and stop just letting life happen to you. Being a dead fish is simply the personification of all those other little fears you have inside. Confront them.

Me, being a vixen underlies EVERYTHING I do in my life. I take chances, I go with the moment, and I may not have the fancy car and the retirement package some of my conservative friends have, but I’ve got experiences. Very cool experiences. So far, dying tomorrow, I’d have few, if any regrets, and knowing that is the greatest thing I can say about who I am.

*And even if you get hurt occasionally by becoming vulnerable, I’ve discovered firsthand that the richness of everyday experiences far outweighs those occasional bumps and bruises along the way. Like mountain biking or something, sometimes you fall, sure, but at least you’re out there having the experience most of the time… and hurts always heal. I take my lumps and go again.