Saturday, August 24, 2013

Treasures From Another Time

My mother passed away three weeks ago, and I've had the task and honor of sorting through her things. It's been everything you might imagine; heart-wrenching, tedious, a lot of work, and... it's definitely been an adventure.

There was an awful lot of stuff. We lived in a two-bedroom apartment, but somehow she was still able to pack years and years and years of stuff into her two bedroom closets, many drawers, cabinets... anywhere she could fit it.

Most of it I was able to sort through and give away easily; decades of clothes, for instance. But every once in awhile I come across a treasure. Clues to who my mother was before I came around. Tonight I found this beat up old, plaid, zipper coin purse. It was filled with papers from the early 60s (I was born in 1966). I'm sure these were things that really didn't mean much to her - probably just an old purse she never got around to cleaning out. But to me... well these are wondrous things from a time gone by.

There is a Certificate of Vaccination for a dog - Musty - that I don't remember. But I do remember my mom talking about her; Musty was pregnant while mom was pregnant with me. They'd take midnight walks in the summer in New York City after the heat of the day. She said that no one would bother a pregnant woman with a pregnant dog.
Musty, according to the certificate, was vaccinated for distemper, leptospirosis, and infections hepatitis. Huh.

One of my favorite items is my mom's Cabaret and Public Dance Hall Employee's Identification Card (on top of the pile with her picture looking a bit like a mug shot). On the back side of the card it shows that she was a 22 year old waitress, and that her "assumed name" was Marina Milwaukee. How fun is THAT?!

There were some pawn tickets (she got $3 for a toaster), a rent receipt ($82.00!!), a few business cards for bars and restaurants ("Have you been there...your friends have" was one slogan), and a 1967 calendar from White Tower. Very cool stuff. Oh - and there was also some things of my grandfather - some business cards, and it looks like my mother's license to sell real estate at her father's office.

I also found this really cool sketch of two women at a cafe of some sort, looking super cool with their dark glasses (which of course reminds me of Andy Warhol). The sketch is signed "Peter '65".

Who is this Peter? And who are the women? I suspect it could be my mom's friend Iris on the left, and my mom on the right. But who knows?

A mystery to solve...

Saturday, August 17, 2013

The Power of Music, Facebook, and Celebrating Life.

Today is my 47th birthday.
I lost my mom two weeks ago today. I am completely heartbroken and I can tell you with absolute certainty that I do not want to celebrate. What I want to do is stay in bed all day long. Sleep. Cry. Wallow. Repeat.

But that's not what my mom would want me to do. I'm alive, and she would want me to celebrate life.

The Power of Facebook
Think what you will about it, you can't deny that Facebook can be a powerful platform. A community, even. I feel very supported by my Facebook community (most of who I know in person). I was reluctant to log on today and see all those birthday wishes. I'd rather ignore the fact that it's my birthday; this is the beginning of my first year on this planet without the person who brought me here. Living in a world without my mother just doesn't seem right.

I nearly took my birthday off of my profile so that it wouldn't send reminders, but I figured that might bum me out, too. So I left it, and the well wishes poured in. Some of them make me cry, but it's good to know I'm supported.

One of my Facebook friends (who I've never met) posted this to my wall:

"You are alive, so take your life and enjoy it. You were born with the right to be happy, to love and to share your love." - don Miguel Ruiz

It was exactly what I needed to see.  This is what my mother wants for me, I'm quite sure of it. So, difficult as it may be right now, it's what I'm going to strive for.

The Power of Music
Also on my page this morning, a video from Playing for Change: Three Little Birds.
We talk about the transformative power of music, and indeed, music is powerful. I have a friend who says that Elton John saved his life. How many times has music gotten you through?

Three Little Birds is one of the songs that has gotten me through, and saved my day on more than one occasion, if not my life.
Although I'm a big fan of Playing For Change, I'm posting the Bob Marley version here because I like it so much better. And because my mom loved Bob Marley.

So, what am I doing to celebrate life on my 47th birthday? I'm going to Lakeside Amusement Park. And I'm going to ride the roller coaster as the sun goes down, and I'm going to scream, and I'm going to feel alive.  And I'm going to honor my mother by living instead of wallowing.