Recently I have reconnected with a cousin. As such things go, she was grouped with my older siblings while I was only too happy to frolic with her younger siblings. We grew up together in parallel play sorts of ways.
And now, years between us don’t matter much and years gone by don’t matter much. What matters, I am finding, is that we grew up together. It is a precious bond.
When in her company, I find myself utterly moved by the glimpses I get of her mother. Her mother and my mother were sisters of the titan sort; each strong, each strong-willed, each poetic of soul, each imprisoned by the oughts of their day and each beautiful in a timeless way. My cousin’s mom died a few years back and it shook us all. How could the world be without the regal and self-minimizing presence of that woman? How does a life force like that encounter finitude?
It hasn’t, not totally. Because my aunt’s daughter carries her mother in her being. It is gift.
It’s that way, isn’t it? We carry within our cells the essence of the woman whose heart beat established our elemental rhythm. Sometimes it is struggle, this maternal legacy. The refrigerator magnet I gave to my mother years back featured a lovely 50’s era über housewife with a tray of steaming cookies and the message said: “Oh *&^%! I turned into my mother!”
We take the elemental real that is our mother and her way of being in the world and we learn from it and adapt the parts that rub us raw (therapists are happy to help with this, thank God) and we sort and discard and add and we weave an essence that can be mother to us.
When we see her in others, in ourselves, and in kin, we give thanks for the day when our souls are free to pay the sorts of homage that are due. We are able to laugh about the ways the beat goes on. We celebrate the tenacious power of the echoes of our mothers that will live always.
Surely my aunt lives in my cousin. Surely my mother lives in me. Surely I give thanks.