My dad grew up white, male, and working-class, an only child in a family constantly struggling to make ends meet. Along the way, he also inherited a healthy distrust of wealth and power, largely through his own troubled father, a self-identified socialist as well as an outright racist. Tellingly, his parents gave him the middle name “Eugene” for Eugene Debs, the turn-of-the-century radical labor leader. And though my dad came of age during the deeply conservative 1950s, he never lost his gut sense of egalitarian ethics. Decades later as I was becoming politicized, he would confess that, at heart, he was forever a socialist, convinced that the staggering inequalities of our society were fundamentally wrong. I suspect that this core ethic contributed to his acceptance of feminism.
Hi Suerae, aw shucks, thanks. I loved this post, it was so joyful to write and if it makes you feel any better, it made me cry too. Bet you can guess which parts. When my daughter went off to college I told her I felt like I had just lost the best job of my life; one I had for 18 years. It crushed me. I was wrong. The job continues … in a different vein with different working hours. But what every mom knows is that we are ever vigilant with our worry, our love and our prayers for our children, no matter how they behave. A mom’s love is enduring through all fire. A lifetime gig that ends at the moment we lose our life. That is commitment. Of course it’s not really like we have a choice. I think we were just made for the job. Thanks so much for being here, and thanks for sharing your kind and loving thoughts.
Happy Mom’s Day to you!
We had a hamster named Gravy. She was brown and would sit in her white bedding all day. This is how she received her name. One cold winter day Gravy died. We put her and her bedding into a box, secured it with duct tape and put her in the freezer. The ground was frozen and there was no way to dig a proper hole. Gravy stayed with us until late into the spring and then we were able to have the official goodbye.
Being Mom means sharing your heart and freezer space too.
Hi Betsy, awesome to see you here! Your daughter shared my piece with you? I love her!! (chuckle) I have always said that if I could be a good mom, raise a responsible, loving, giving and gracious child, well, then I could probably do anything. Hard job? Heck, yeah! Worth every moment of grief, fear, worry and sadness. Children are the gift that keeps on giving … and giving … and giving. Pretty awesome stuff. I’m so happy to have added a little extra smile to your Mom’s day. Sounds like you had a pretty good head start. Say hello to that beautiful daughter of yours for me! Thanks for the post, love having you here!
Yes mother’s are a special breed of human beings. I recently found a diary my mother kept for years. Inserting and writing several pages on each grandchild and when they were born. I requested if I could keep the diary and copy for every their own special page. My mother agreed. I keep the diary in my own bedroom on my writing desk. I never knew mom kept this diary and was fascinated. Got to love a mom.
What a beautiful tribute to your grandmother, Robin. It brought tears to my eyes. I took a peak at the scrapbook too. Wow, you are a scrapbooking queen – beautiful!
My grandma is the reason I know Jesus too. She took me to church when I was little. She also told me that she prayed for me. She is still living and I get to go see her in Arkansas this July. Lovely tribute.
At the funeral when I looked at her body I knew I was looking at an empty shell. Her body remained but she was gone to be with Jesus. I realized how blessed I was to be with her in her final hours. I thanked God for leading us at just the right time. My grandmother’s final lesson for me is nothing is too insignificant, to take to the Lord in prayer and His timing is perfect. God is never late. He who created this universe from nothing, who sees the end from the beginning, who is, in Himself, all wisdom and knowledge, works all things out perfectly at the right time. It may not be “in our time,” In His perfect time Yahweh will accomplish His divine purpose. “He has made everything beautiful in its time.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11 ). God leads us step by step, moment by moment if we will listen. Afterwards, when we look back in hindsight we discover how God led us God uses important moments of our lives to lead us in His will through life. When you pray about a difficult decision God will answer and you will know in your deepest being, in your heart of hearts, what God is calling you to do. Our job is to pray, listen, and obey.
I spent the next day with her while she drifted in and out of sleep. My mother, aunt and I sat with her reading Scripture, singing her favorite hymns and sharing stories. Her eyes were open but it was unclear if she knew who we were. She went to be with the Lord around 5:00 p.m. I will never forget the precious moments we had together the previous morning where I know she was saying she had been waiting for me and she loved me. Years before she became ill she told me repeatedly to remember Ecc. 7:1 The day of one’s death is better than the day of one’s birth. I knew she was saying that to me again.
On one hand, then, I acknowledge his successes and the inspirational role he has played in my life. Simply put, I would not be the person that I am today without him. He helped equip me with some essential reflective tools for challenging systems of oppression. He embodied a (not entirely) different way of ‘being a man.’ And he taught me basic things: to confront my own homophobia, to contribute equally in household responsibilities, to never forget how to cry. In this sense, I carry him with me.
Certainly my dad should be understood within the larger context of a society founded upon structural inequalities, like patriarchy. Single lives cannot easily bypass institutional realities. However, in some areas of his life, my father worked to challenge this context. So, why the incongruity? I suspect that his failure to deal with his behavior stemmed, in part, from his difficulty reaching out and finding support. Despite his encouraging efforts with men’s groups, he still relied heavily on the woman in his life–my mom–for emotional care-taking, a dynamic that many men are quick to fall back on. The gendered roles and expectations of the nuclear family–breadwinning father and nurturing mother–don’t die so easily.
Not unconnected was my father’s volatile temper. In chilling detail, my mother sometimes tells horrendous stories of his most controlling, explosive states. By her accounts, his care and sensitivity were real, but they also concealed a capacity for intense rage and characteristically masculine entitlement. I definitely experienced pieces of this, but not the full brunt that my mom endured. And as she points out, even as he tried to mend and reconcile in his last years, he never took authentic responsibility for it.