Friday, August 1, 2008

Happy Birthday Mom!

I've been thinking a lot about Lynda lately, and it is no coincidence. Today would have been her 91st birthday. Birthdays being what they are, especially as one gets older, the day itself isn't so important as the accomplishment. Now with nothing to claim but her absence, I find myself in an empty place trying to fill it with words.

I miss Lynda more than I can effectively relate here with these words. Because we had such a long and intimate relationship, the feeling of absence isn't a heartache, as it still is for Pierre. What I feel is a longing, a subtle tug in my heart, a desire.

It's selfish, really. I would, if I could, continue the dialog we began now fifty years ago. The fact that our conversation is ended doesn't mean that I do not continue to receive her counsel and support. I need only look in the mirror or hear myself talk to recall that she is part of me, irreducible and elemental in ways that are not always visible but which define me nonetheless.

Others have come to define themselves similarly, not from genetic markers but social and artistic ones. Many people sought her counsel, about life, love and, above all, art. She used art as the metaphor it is to serve the interests of artists. She encouraged, cajoled, teased and supported artists of every type, generation and sex. Her door was literally always open, a symbol of her open mind and willing heart. In this world of lifters and leaners, she was a lifter, and many are the souls who were uplifted by her strength of character.

Her art, no less than her personality, forced people to think. Being with her was an exercise in stamina, for she always had more places to go and people to see than there were hours in the day and days in the year. She never stopped pushing herself nor those around her.

When I was younger I understood this drive as the means by which she sustained our family, literally with food on the table. Later I came to understand that her drive was more than physical; it was intellectual and spiritual. It was the fire of creativity that burned brightly in her eyes, words and art. That flame has kindled many others and, in the process, singed more than a few unsuspecting bystanders. If you are going to stand near the flame, prepare to be burned.

My sign is the sun and fire is who and what I am. My flame burns nowhere nearly so bright as Lynda's but it is to her that I owe my spark.

Happy Birthday, Mom!

No comments: