Sorrow, Mi Madre
Twenty years ago today
(My mother in the mountains of New Mexico in an outfit she made)
I write about my mother, quite a bit. She passed away twenty years ago today in New Mexico. I suppose the act of writing keeps me close to her. I think about her everyday. When I have a despondent moment in New York feeling utterly alone- I imagine her arms wrapping around me, and whispering “It will be alright Maya. You have all the strength you need inside.” Once again I am fortified.
The loss is easy to remember, but it is better to focus on what she brought me in those brief years. She taught me how to sew. She use to play Tina Turner, Chaka Kahn, or Earth, Wind, and Fire records in the living room. She would make my brothers Mondrian and Matisse disco dance with her as I watched and laughed at their reluctance (they quickly came around and relished the dance moves). My mother loved to bake. I would sit in the kitchen with her and watched as she made a loaf of bread from scratch. She was a jewelry maker and a seamstress. She would sing aloud while she was creating at her work bench housed inside of our garage. She would take my brothers and I to the mountains to visit her friends. There I discovered my love of nature, and silence. I would watch the fog settle on the mesas, drink tea, and eat her fresh baked green chili corn bread. I would pick pine nuts off the tree with her, trying to avoid another nasty spill into a pile of cactus’. She would read to my brothers and I every night at bedtime. The stories spun like tapestries in my mind before I would drift off safely to slumber.
She loved to laugh and she would most all of the time, despite being a single mother left to raise three children on her own.
She was beautiful and elegant. She took pride in her appearance. Colorful clothing (that she made) and French perfume.
She never felt sorry for herself, save those low moments in Chemotherapy. Even through her anger she would still manage to find humor in it all.
The memory of her shows me why love is so powerful. Just thinking of her at any moment of the day can move me to tears, not just because I miss her, but because my love for her is so powerful. It encompasses me. Through her, I know how to love. I know generosity, I know strength, and passion for life. I am beginning to learn patience, which I know is a lesson my mother sought to teach me.
I know my life changed forever the day she left this earth. Sometimes it brings a great deal of anger. Then I quickly put that away and remember my connection to all living beings, who suffer, and I am humbled by it all. Complaining is foolish. The gift my mother has left me is to remember that she fought for her life. She knew it was precious. So I wish for the memory of her life to be imparted to you, all my friends world wide- love your life, even the difficulties because it is apart of the experience as is joy, and I hope you all have more of that. Beso- Maya
(My mother in the jewelry and clothing she designed with my grandfather at his book release party ‘Tradition & Innovation in The New Deal’).
"Being a woman is hard work. Not without joy and even ecstasy, but still relentless, unending work. Becoming an old female may require only being born with certain genitalia, inheriting long-living genes and the fortune not to be run over by an out-of-control truck, but to become and remain a woman command the existence and employment of genius.
The woman who survives intact and happy must be at once tender and tough. She must have convinced herself, or be in the unending process of convincing herself, that she, her values, and her choices are important…She will need to prize her tenderness and be able to display it at appropriate times in order to prevent toughness from gaining total authority and to avoid becoming a mirror image of those men who value power above life, and control over love.
It is imperative that a woman keep her sense of humor intact and at the ready. She must see, even if only in secret, that she is the funniest, looniest woman in her world, which she should also see as being the most absurd world of all times.” - Maya Angelo, Wouldn’t Take Nothing For My Journey Now.
DON’T GO FAR OFF, NOT EVEN FOR A DAY
Don’t go far off, not even for a day, because —
because — I don’t know how to say it: a day is long
and I will be waiting for you, as in an empty station
when the trains are parked off somewhere else, asleep.
Don’t leave me, even for an hour, because
then the little drops of anguish will all run together,
the smoke that roams looking for a home will drift
into me, choking my lost heart.
Oh, may your silhouette never dissolve on the beach;
may your eyelids never flutter into the empty distance.
Don’t leave me for a second, my dearest,
because in that moment you’ll have gone so far
I’ll wander mazily over all the earth, asking,
Will you come back? Will you leave me here, dying? -Pablo Neruda
Pablo Neruda- Chilean poet, electrified and changed the world with his poetry. He was a favorite of my grandfathers (both living in Chile during the oppressive rule of dictator Pinochet). As February approaches— I always find myself in a writing frenzy and a self-imposed solitude. I look to find the words that connect me back to the time in my life where I felt safe in the shelter of my mothers arms, and look to slough of the anger that builds from missing her so dearly (it has now been twenty years since I last saw her face). So I look to comfort myself with the forgotten familiar— the smell of my grandfather’s art studio, the taste of green chile, and pine nuts, listening to absurd amounts of Classical music (the sounds of my childhood, one of financial poverty, Classical music gave me a sense of royalty, pomp, and circumstance). I visualize mesas, watercolored sunsets, and the Rio Grande River. I use this time to gather strength and to refocus what is most important to me in my life—creativity and family. Beso- Maya
At the Smirnoff Event brought to you by the brilliant men Karl & Kimbo of GTM Central. Jermaine Dupri on the decks, Biz Markie on the mic, and the booze is flowing. Thurman is hangin with me taking in the atmosphere (oddly, that Californian man fits in well) I am writing this in an old subway car. Loving the atmosphere. I don’t use this word often- “crushin” (other then when I am talking about a newest love that I lust) but the GTM crew is crushing it. Thanks to Rita who didn’t make me wait in line with Thurman…Beso- M