Sunday, May 24, 2015


Today is my mom's birthday. She asked for no gifts, just poems. It's a bit too wordy to qualify as a poem, but it's my best effort. So, here's my poem to Mom on her birthday:

Mom and me, sitting around the table, talking, 1974

Thanks, Mom, for encouraging my curiosity. You took me to the public library and taught me how to read. Everything. To be open to ideas and to pay attention to other people's stories. You read aloud to me from both The Bible and Shirley MacLaine's New Agey memoirs. You recommended books by both Gloria Steinem and Erica Jong. You let me check out whatever I wanted to read from the library. You never made fun of me for my interests and obsessions. You taught me that everybody has a story and that one of the best ways to understand someone is to read their words. You made me a reader.

Mom and her wildflowers, circa 1985

Then, you kicked me out of the house and told me to write my own stories. My tortoise pace and weedy path must be excruciatingly annoying for you, more of a hare, to bear, but I'm getting there, Mom. I read other people's stories and I write my own stories every day. I thank you, Mom, for being my first teacher, my role model, and my biggest fan. You made me a writer.

Happy birthday, Mom! I love you.

Gloria Steinem and Other Peace Heroes
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How fitting that today is also the "International Women's Day for Peace and Disarmament", and that one of our favorite writer's, Gloria Steinem​, has involved herself in some major badassery. Steinem and about thirty other women peace heroes are marching from South to North Korea today, crossing the DMZ, in the name of peace. As Steinem, 81, says:

“We have accomplished our first goal of meeting woman-to-woman in order to break through barriers to make human connections,” said Steinem. “We achieved what we set out to do, which is to engage in citizen diplomacy.”

Mom, you're no citizen diplomat. You cross no international borders seeking peace. You rarely leave your apartment to go to the grocery store.

Mom doing her favorite thing

You're no famous feminist icon. You're no best-selling memoirist. You're a humble person living a humble life. You've had a couple of shitty husbands, and then one decent one, a psychologically disturbed mother, and a compassionate dad, and then you had a bunch of kids with minds of our own. I don't know how you did it, but you did. You made it. You survived with tears and laughter, through good and bad. You are the hero of your own story. 

Mom sharing her favorite things with my daughter, Katie

You might never show up on the front page of the newspaper or inside the pages of a bestseller, but you're life is heroic. Your human connections, though not made on the global scale, as no less grand. You taught me to love people and listen to their stories, to love myself and to share my own. You are my hero, Mom.

Mom, Katie, and me
Happy birthday, Mom! I love you.