Tuesday, May 29, 2012


My Mom--Demetra Leonora Allender--celebrated her birthday on May 28th. She lives faraway, but I'll visit her soon. I think it's always difficult to express exactly what it means, to have a Mother you not only (dearly) love, but respect and admire, too. When I was little, I never imagined being married, and I certainly never dreamed of children: I wanted a different kind of life, one free from the obligations and, I suppose, the responsibilities that I saw my own Mom cheerfully succumb to, and freely accept. I dreamed of being an actress, of being free to travel, to write about adventures in a diary that the whole wide world might one day "discover", and read---and somehow, find it, or me, amusing or interesting. I thought about lovers I'd one day have--men-- but I also...dreamed of women. I imagined being in love with a tall blond man, and making love on a secluded beach;I conjured quiet moments holding hands with a dark-haired Frenchman, while visiting the Eiffel Tower; I fantasized reading poetry aloud to a beautiful woman... The day-to-day of cleaning, ironing, vacuuming, of caring for messy children and dirty dogs (in the home I grew up in, we had several German Shepherd dogs), of preparing endless meals and falling into bed, so very tired every day, only to wake up in order to do it, all over again, the very next day, seemed incomprehensible to me.... Why on earth would my very, very, beautiful Mom, with her jet-black curls, and huge doe-like eyes, perfect olive skin, and naturally red lips, my athletic, quick-witted Mom with the smile that made men at the grocery store stare, commit herself to a life where she had so little time for joy? The answer, of course, is that we--her children-- WERE, and most likely, she'd tell you, we still ARE, HER joy. Because I guess that's what she thought about, as a little girl: becoming a dedicated wife, and a loving, patient mother. I always said to her, "If I ever marry, Mom, it'll be in my late 40's;I know I won't marry young, there's so much I want to do." Turns out, I got to do all those things I imagined. I've gotten to be an actress, to travel, to write...I got to make love on the beach, hold hands at the Eiffel Tower, read poetry aloud to a beautiful woman;I got to do all those things, and thousands more. And I married the love of my life, Hansoo, when I was 49. But the odd thing is, even though I never wanted my Mom's LIFE (I wouldn't wish my sister, and me, growing up, on ANYONE! Ha!), I always wanted the QUALITIES that made my Mom, Mom... Her inquisitive nature, her incisive wit, her clean intelligence, with a knack for research and a strong need for expressing her opinion: check, check, check, check, check! As I grow older, I discover there's much more to learn about, from my Mom: how to create those amazing dishes she made for us, all those years ago(the meals I swore I'd be too busy to make!), how to pray in earnest(my mom's faith has never wavered), how to manage my time better (she was, and still is, the master of that!), how to be a truly loyal person--from her long-time dedication to my father for the 27 years they were happily married, to her love of lifelong friends, to her own family-of-origin members,and their extended families, my mother is the most loyal--and kind--person you'll ever meet. The other discovery, is that I still have much more to learn, about HER. Who she truly is, now that she's had a different life herself. A single life, for almost 26 years. And an even newer chapter, these past twenty-three years, as a "Yia-Yia" (Greek for Grandmother). As she grows older, her hair is worn loose now, instead of in the usual bun she wore for decades. Her smile still brightens with every note of pop music (Madonna, Adele) in her iPod, and, as she sets out for her daily morning jog, I imagine she recalls being younger herself, dreaming of birthing a baby girl, maybe two, and then holding us close, until we're ready---with her blessing--to go out and claim our own lives. I hope my character as a human being, becomes as sterling, as hers is. How very fortunate indeed, am I. Blessed. Peace, kids.

No comments: