Sunday, March 29, 2009

Earth Hour 2009

We celebrated Earth Hour in our usual idiosyncratic meander last night. Carl was in Michigan, Annie in Atlanta. I pulled the plug on everything I could think of except, of course, those plugs attached to clocks. I didn't touch those after a careful weighing of the following concerns: my desire to save the world v. my desire to live without hearing my husband complain about having to reset every clock in our home.

What, you think I could do the resetting? Well, I could. But the Master and Announcer of Time (truly, it is important for a radio guy) would probably redo the whole effort as my version of exact does not necessarily coincide with his version.

But I digress.

I pulled numerous plugs, lit a few candles, poured a rather large glass of Riesling, and grabbed a book to read by candlelight. Having just finished a good mystery (Among the Mad by Jacqueline Winspear), it seemed fitting to start on "Little House in the Ozarks: a Laura Ingalls Wilder sampler."

The warm, fluttery candlelight was lovely, though the necessity of same was mostly pretense. The streetlights of Oak Park provide sufficient illumination to read the contractual fine-print on a mortgage.

In the meantime, in my Home of Compromise, Jonathan sat in the den: lights out, candle lit, television on, computer humming, keyboard clicking, iTunes gurgling. Jonathan enjoyed his version of Earth Hour, too. He acquiesced to a time of relative silence (no iTunes, no tv, heavy on the keyboard clicking) and commented positively on the ambiance of candlelight.

Jon isn't big on silence, though. His chatter filled in the quiet spaces quite quickly. The few moments of total silence were deep, fluffy feather mattresses, into which I sank with no little joy.
Why are we so compelled to fill our days with sound?

Speaking of chatter, I enjoyed skipping around cyberspace this evening, reading the pros and cons of observing this Earth Hour. Arguments of this nature grow predictable: process versus product. Some believe we save next to no energy by this effort, as (if I understand this correctly) electricity is produced pre-need so what is not used is wasted. Others were equally certain that the effort would save energy overall because the process was thought-provoking, provoking some to permanent action rather than simple thought.

Me, I don't like empty gestures. But I'm rarely convinced that gestures are empty. And I do like dark and peace and quiet, the occasional reminder to not spend the remaining energy we have profligately, and honoring the notion that one person can make a difference. Particularly when you add 1 + 1+ 1 . . . .


Saturday, March 28, 2009


Are we ever ready to lose our mothers? Can we ever be prepared to sing at their funerals? I suppose there are those mothers who are nightmares unto themselves. You'd think some children--grown adult children--would be pleased to suffer them no more. But death casting the relationship into stone may be the ultimate slap in the face: this relationship can never improve. The death of mom would be the death of hope.

There are those mothers for whom death is a sweet release. We've watched them suffer, body and soul, sometimes for years. We feel petty letting our grief color our relief for them. Grief permeates our porous boundaries easily and bleeds one emotion into the next.

And there are those moms who were simply women who did their best, loved us with all their might, and now are gone.

I think that no one is ever ready to say good-bye to their mom.

This afternoon, our choir sang for, among others, an 18 year old who was saying good-bye to her mother. Our pastor gave a lovely and meaningful sermon, truly, though my full eyes prevented me from retaining a single word of solace. Except this: that those who go before us (there are lots of euphemisms for dying, aren't there?) are with us at the communion table, just beyond our reach, but still sharing the meal.

Maybe everyone else is able to be a grown up about this. But I struggle with it, the notion that those I love being with me but not being with me is good enough, is balm enough. I suppose it may be balm enough, when I am able to be open about how wounded I am.

On the days when I am selfish and angry, I suspect that thinking of anyone I love and miss (let alone my mom) being an arm's reach away beyond the veil, just on the other side of the communion table, in the ether surrounding me yet I can't quite see or hear her, well, it won't be enough. It will not meet my need for a mother. And I will be broken.

Maybe this is why we can't ready ourselves to lose our mothers: our complex relationships with them stripped bare are mostly about us. Because that's how baby's relationship with her mother should be, focused on the little one. We grow, change, mature. Sometimes we become our mothers, taking over parental roles. Yet the genesis of our relationship continues to define it: we were helpless and she was everything.

There were few dry eyes today. We are all someone's child. Many of us are someone's parent. For most of us, the loss hits home. And we are not ready yet.