Thursday, September 22, 2011


My mom has cancer. Leukemia, to be specific. She is 81. I struggle with what to write... but I want to write something. I am at a loss for words... which if you know me, is new for me. I am flying down to visit her next week. One thing that has come of this is we are more connected than we were. I talk to her more often in real and intimate ways.

The obligatory 'call your mother' stuff is gone from my brain. I'm lucky. Even with all the dysfunction in my family history, I can still say that if my mother were not my mother, and I met her on the street, I would dig her. I would hang out with her. She's cool. I also remember her that way as a child. The good memories are of her full belly laughs, her high pitched cackles, her open-minded thinking, and her passionate, creative energy.

These positive qualities are just a few of the ways I am gifted by knowing her. Can I tell you some shitty stories? Sure. Do I have any f**ked up memories? Yeah. And, I am exceedingly grateful to add that I have a multitude of memories that bring a smile to my face, many that make me laugh out loud, and she has a great many positive character traits that I have been impacted by.

When my dad died, I spoke at his memorial service. I said out loud that my dad was not a great husband to my mother, and not a great dad in many ways. Yes, I said it. Out loud... at a podium on a stage up in front of family and friends. And I said, " And I loved him anyway. My father wasn't a saint. I didn't need him to be". That last sentence was really important for me. Still is.

There was a man, probably my father's only true friend, who spoke about him being a 'good christian', blah, blah, blah. Which was total words-you-say-at-an-american-funeral bullshit. My dad was not churchy and did not use 'christian speak', go to church even. Was he moral? Yes. That's how he would have described himself. He liked that word, moral. But his friend did not speak about the man I knew.

I have many good memories of both my parents. My father was sweet and loving to me. I know to the core of my being that he loved me with his whole heart. My mother too. Neither one of them were perfect and as far as parenting skills go, there was a lot to be desired. But what's gratefully true for me today is that I don't need them to be anything more than the humans they are/were. I can love them wholly and completely. What freedom there is in this truth! What joy and peace it gives me. I am feeling much gratitude for that today.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Julia, I LOVE this blog posting! My favorite part is "My father wasn't a saint. I didn't need him to be." I have tears in my eyes as I read this because your words mirror my own experience.

One of the most precious experiences at one of your weekends was when we were gathered around the fire as we shared about our parents. I remember it hitting me and speaking it aloud that although my father really fucked up with me, I have so much respect for the fact that he owned it. He apologized to me, AND he saved money (there wasn't much) to fly from California to North Carolina see me and my kids when he could. I am really proud of my dad. I am grateful for his strength and for his example, and equally grateful that I could forgive him and enjoy precious little time with him before he died.

The same story goes for my mom. My turning point came in the very recent past when I looked in the mirror and realized I wasn't in any position to be standing in judgment. I am certainly no saint and definitely in no position to be banging the gavel and sentencing my mom to a life without her only daughter. (My only brother died when I was 25.)

I have heard you say many times as well as write in your blog that saying things out loud is of profound importance to you. I get that! We were supposed to pretend that what we were experiencing in our families wasn't really happening or that it wasn't so bad. What I think I hear you saying is that living consistently in a place of truth is one of your highest ideals - to speak aloud what you see and experience. Let me say that, in my humble opinion, this is your greatest gift as a leader, healer, and friend. We all know the truth, but most of us are too scared to say it out loud; there are too many fears in the way.

Women are looking for examples -- there are precious few -- who are strong enough to speak the truth yet wise enough, humble enough, not only to see the perfectly imperfect human being behind the sometimes egregious flaws, but also to forgive.

You've got it, girl :)

Love you,