In 1915, like today, April 5 was Easter Sunday. My grandfather, making his way home through the snow that had fallen overnight, met the doctor on the street, who told him that he had another daughter. And so my mother came into the world she would inhabit for nearly 90 years.

(I am inhibited from giving my mother’s birth surname here, as “mother’s maiden name” is so often used as an identifying question, and I don’t care to broadcast it to strangers.)

A long life, lived entirely in one South Jersey town, among family and friends known her whole life, by rules and assumptions she learned early and never saw reason to question or rebel against. A happy secure childhood as one of four children. In order, Donata, Elvira, John, Joseph. She and her elder sister remained close to for her whole life, double-dating two friends who became Dad and Uncle Charles. Bridesmaid at her sister’s wedding, and then, two years later, with Aunt Nonnie as her matron of honor, her own marriage at age 23.

Then, several months into her first pregnancy, one day before her 25th birthday, a shattering blow. Her father, seemingly in the best of health at age 50, on his way downstairs to the cellar, collapsed and died in an instant.

(If you want to have a big turnout at your funeral, though, die in the prime of life after an active career in business and politics. A news clipping I saw said Grandpop’s funeral procession was the biggest ever seen in that little town at that time, numbering more than 150 cars. One hundred and fifty cars. It’s hard to imagine. But he was very well liked.)

I don’t think Mom ever got over the shock of her father’s sudden death. I often thought, fancifully perhaps, that from that moment on she never quite trusted life. Probably that attitude was confirmed three years later, in 1943. when her favorite brother died of an infection after an operation, because the sulfa drugs that might have saved his life were reserved for the soldiers and sailors. (I suppose in a way that makes Uncle Joe, whom I never met, a wartime casualty.) and much later, in 1979, my brother Joe died at age 30 in suspicious circumstances that were never resolved.

But I don’t mean to imply that my mother’s life was particularly tragic. As my father’s mother used to say, quoting an Italian saying, “everybody rides the mule.” Life is more than tragedy or even hardship. It’s a mixed bag.

Children provide enough ups and downs for variety, and she had six: John, Margaret, Frank, Joseph, Barbara, Paul, five of whom outlived her. Additionally, nine of her nieces and nephews lived in the same small town, and it was never too long before it was somebody’s birthday, and all the family gathered for a party. Eventually there were grandchildren, of whom my daughter, the first grandchild, was the undoubted apple of her eye. From the moment Sarah was born, she and her grandmother shared a unique bond. (One wonders what they have been to each other previously.)

Her middle years had to have been hectic, between raising six kids, and keeping house, with all the chores that implies. Never an excess of money, never enough time for herself, I imagine. Conflict enough at all times, and health worries: me with asthma from age two, my brother Joe with intestinal troubles, my brother Paul with amblyopia, and all the other things that went with childhood – measles, mumps, chicken pox, and even worry (until 1952 or so) lest someone contract polio.

If this seems a curiously cold-blooded memoir (it does to me, writing it), perhaps it is because mom and I had a difficult relationship. While I never doubted that she loved me and wanted to support me in my endeavors, as she did all her children, I was too different and too difficult. She loved me but couldn’t understand me, and often disapproved of what I did (and, it seemed to me, what I was). We all need to be loved, but we also yearn to be understood, and that understanding did not flow between us. Nor did I understand myself well enough to begin to explain myself or my actions.

I got many things from my mother, among them a love of reading and puns and, eventually, crossword puzzles, and a quick verbal facility. But even what we shared in essence, we shared in different forms. Thus, she and I shared a mystical bent, but she was born into the Catholic Church, lived in it and died in it, while I was the first of the children to turn away from it. And so it went.

My father died nearly 20 years before my mother did, and it took another 20 years before I contacted him. When I did, I was pleased to see that mind-to-mind, he could understand me better than he did when he was alive. Perhaps it will be that way with Mom, too. I hope so. It will be interesting to see our relationship as she experienced it, and equally interesting to see where it goes from here.

7 thoughts on “Mom

  1. Thank you very much in telling Frank.
    You really have COURAGE!

    I believe it is one of “the core” matters.
    Back to Edgar Cayce again, his readings dealt very much with family-karma. As E.C. always underlined: “It cannot be peace in the world, if you cannot make peace within your own family, friends, and the own environment AT FIRST.”
    E.C. was very much “down-to-earth” in dealing with Spiritual knowledge. Another reading by E.C., not forgotten, is:” Begin with what you have “at hand” within Thyself at first, because family, partners, etc., as close friends as well. And “the other strangers” about you (the people) that you are thinking about as “your enemies” only shows you what you came into incarnation this life-time around to deal with, and to do better.”
    And if you cannot “make it this time around”…There`ll always be another chance.

    BUT, according to E.C. and others as well….It IS possible to forgive each others, even “AFTER” one of us to have died (or to have done the transition).
    You (and I) can forgive even if “the others” cannot forgive you or me either dead or alive. It is solely up to each of us.
    And that`s what you have PROVED to us Frank, talking with “the dead”(without a doubt).

    BUT my experience in life has been “a two-edged sword”…as I was brought up in an highly protected environment, knowing nothing else than a loving family. VERY TOLERANT in every way…and from early childhood love to DANCE (even as of I wanted to become a soldier..LAUGHS).
    MY challenge came with the early marriage (soon I will have been married with the same guy for 50 years). But IT IS a bond of love which have kept us together—AND I have learned INDEPENDENCE most of all—BECAUSE the husband is INDEPENDENT. He was brought up within a strictly fundamental religious Protestant family (as strict as it can be, everything was “a sin”. Cinemas, Theater, Dance, Divorce, NOT TV, you name it! And not any make-up for the ladies (and the girls could not wear JEANS of course but skirts). Hats for ladies in church was obligatory, and it was one side for ladies and one side for the males in the Church.
    VERY STRANGE for me. In fact, I did not understood what he (later on as husband) was talking about at all. I COULD NOT understand it because of never to have experienced the same myself. And that`s how it is with absolutely everything.

    BUT the husband breaking out of it at the age of 19–and went into the Air-Force. AS he told me later on:”I did manage to escape.”

    The bond of Love is a Mystery but it is Life.
    Inger Lise.

    1. When i did the Shirley MacLaine Higher Self Seminar in 1987, one exercise she had us do stuck with me. She had us envision the person who had hurt us the worst — and my father came to mind — and see how that hurt had helped us — and suddenly I saw it. I suppose that’s what the French mean when they say that to understand everything would be to forgive everything. Indeed, one winds up seeing that there isn’t anything to forgive.

      1. Thanks Frank, you are quite right.
        Yes, Shirley MacLaine, I have her books and the video “out-on-a Limb”, since long time ago.

        ACIM telling the very same:” Nothing to Forgive, because it is nothing to Forgive.” BUT, it is obvious of us to learn while in the Earth, or maybe rather “to recall it”(at least as the part of the compound being in the framework of time). The Higher Self to know it obviously.
        LOL, Inger Lise.

  2. I think that hemispheric synchronization can also be looked at as a kind of parental synchronization that we have to do within. So dad is the left brain representative and mom is the right. How was their relationship? And how is one’s own relationship with the linear/rational and the spacious/dreamy?

    In particular when you do what you are doing with this blog I see a conversation between the two sides represented by male and female.

    Which is just another reason why I think Bob Monroe was a genius. Who woulda thunk that you could re-unite your own parents within to enable you to go farther than you ever thought you could.

    1. I think in my case, Dad was the gestalt perceiver and Mom the analyzer; she was far more judgmental (of everything, not just of me!) than he; he was pretty accepting. She was extremely articulate, he was far less so, much more into silence about what he knew. I’ll have to think about the rest of what you suggest here. Hope you’re doing well.

  3. Hello again—This is indeed “a daily-encounter.”

    Hmm, here comes another E.C.Reading:”In the beginning/-in the Earth, ALL of us “existed” as ANDROGYNOUS beings, and later on parted into two (as the famous Adam&Eve–God took a rib from the body of Adam and made Eve), a female and a male energy.
    I guess any sort of homosexuality will be the quest in “which of them” to become (the cells of the body are confused)?
    The Archetypes as the result from the same “Prototype.”

    I have come to see all stories about Angels always (with a few exceptions, there is always an exception to the rule) telling of they will be looking as “sex-less,” neither male or female.
    Well, as to my understanding so far, there will be (and once was) a time when not “to be in the need of a body” at all.
    It is OFTEN mentioned (especially E.C.) The Human Body as “The Holy Temple”–BUT, I am NOT in agreement with the E.C. sources about that particular statement at all. That`s one of the statements I do not agree with. You can knock my head with a Hammer, and I`ll not agree with it (stubborn as a hill-goat).

    Cheerio, Inger Lise.
    P.S. We are Not the Body…it is no use in to argue (smiles).

  4. Dearest Frank, all

    This was a wonderful piece for me…felt like we were in your Hemingway work, and of course it touched some of my own experience with family…perhaps there is an Italian/American archetypal energy. Sudden death was a huge part of my family story. My father lost his dad in a week from pneumonia when he was 12 years old. His father was 50. That experience shaped his character in ways I well have written about in my manuscript; it also affected our fear and terror around illness and his crazy remedies and reactions. My mother’s family had their share of loss too and this seemed to happen suddenly leaving a sense of vulnerability hard to put into words.

    Being a writer was frowned upon by my mother who wanted me to be the teacher she hoped to be. Dad was supportive, but hoped I would be a lawyer.?? Humm…lots of other outsider issues too. So sorry this is about your mother’s story and how much I appreciated it here.

    I also think it helps me with some of my forgiveness issue around my siblings.
    Inger Lise your Cayce material was an excellent reminder: “The bond of Love is a Mystery but it is Life.”

    Many thanks and say hello to your mom when you connect, I feel she must have had many similar characteristics to my mother…who was most articulate, critical, bright and lived to 90. Dad died at 67- my age!


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