I don't like animals. Period. Which is why I surprised myself enjoying the movie "earth," to which Hannah and Julia dragged me last week. The film followed three female-led animal families - polar bears, whales and elephants - on their annual migrations with their young.
Interestingly, predators typically attacked the youngest offspring most separated from the herd. Visit the sidewalk near any orphanage in Eastern Europe, any bus station in the U.S. or any whacko religious gathering to confirm the life lesson there.
I've been pondering the African elephant migration and why it moved me so much. Mother elephants (no males) surrounded their calves in a protective, impregnable circle when lions prowled. As long as those strong females stood shoulder to shoulder in the daylight, their young were safe. When darkness fell - the mothers were at risk. In fact, one was lost - with a terrified night-camera stare and frantic last-dash as the entire pride of lions chased her down.
The elephant story line really got to me. I think I understood it because - with no dad around - I, too, was blessed with a similarly protective cadre of females. I loved and admired my mother and even when the darkness would dim her joy from time to time, I acknowledged the still-essential "her" that would argue HISD into the ground about David's special education needs, or remind me about being inside when the street lights came on.
Mom, Judy and me in 1956, Having a sister 11 years older is a wonderful thing. I think Julia is very, very fortunate to have Rachel nine years older than is she. Judy always had time for me - just like Rachel has had time for Julia.
My sister Judy always looked out for David and me - even when it was neither convenient nor realistic to expect her to do so. Mom gave us life, but Judy taught us how to live.
I'm sure David's one finger added a stunning harmony to Judy's melody. That's the same piano I convinced balloon-tied David to climb atop and jump off of three times in a quest for flight - but that's another blog.
My mom was always close to her three Hoosier sisters, so I've always been close to my aunts, too. When at age six I whined to Aunt Zum that Judy was getting all these neat gifts for graduating high school and here I was graduating kindergarten and I was getting squat - Aunt Zum sent me a can of Avon Topaz bath power with a faux "jewel" on the lid. Heaven! When the teenage me went shopping with Aunt Neva, she bought the expensive pair of shoes and let me have the "second pair for a penny." Aunt Mary has decorated every home I've had with beautiful hand-painted ceramics, compensating for my peculiar lack of genteel taste.
Sisters Oklahoma (Mary), Wyoming (Wy), Nevada (Neva) and Arizona (Zum) in 1972. How I loved to listen to their stories of Quaker church services, moonshinin' uncles and wayward brothers. When she was upset, I used to tease Mom by saying, "Oh, Wyoming - you're in such a state." Now my Aunt Mary is the only sibling (of eight) still living, and I treasure our frequent phone visits.
Mom had great friends, too, like Jean - who was at the hospital the day I was born, and with whom I visit regularly online and by phone. And Jo - who still remembers special occasions with calligraph'ed letters remarkable not only for their beauty, but also for their depth. And friends who've gone on - Maxine, Dottie, Clara, Frannie - but not before they closed ranks around the young in their sphere of influence. Mom's friends shared countless notes, letters, scriptures, discussions, books and words of encouragement with me - to my eternal betterment.
I was also blessed with patient Sunday School teachers, dedicated Girl Scout leaders and excellent educators. My high school yearbook sponsor - Marilyn Dodd - saw a literary spark in me and fanned it to flame.
So I understand those wary-eyed mama elephants - shuffling nervously - trumpeting and swatting the herd's babies to keep them safe as night approached and the predators circled. I understand keeping one eye on a dangerous world, and the other on children for whom you would die rather than sacrifice to it.
I understand it. I lived it. And I am grateful to the strong circle of women who closed ranks around me.
Happy Mother's Day. Too all who protect the young of the herd.
Posted at 06:45 pm by beckyww
May 9, 2009 08:42 PM PDT
Well, they're all wonderful, but this is one of the best! Thanks for helping me to remember all the moms who have helped me and continue to help me be the person I am. And now I'm also thankful for all the moms that are helping me for that protective circle around Thomas!
May 7, 2009 08:22 PM PDT
This was beautifully written and very touching Becky! I'm leaving a comment even though you don't know me, because, you know, you *live* for comments. ;-)
(friend of votemom's)
May 7, 2009 09:31 AM PDT
what a beautiful post!!
May 7, 2009 06:35 AM PDT
You are a great mom who looks out for all of us all of the time
|Wendy Laubach |
May 7, 2009 06:06 AM PDT
Your mother was important to me, too. When I see a photo of you now on your blog, I'm startled to see the Wye Hoffman I remember from my teenage years. I was very fond of her.
|r to the a to the chelll |
May 6, 2009 09:22 PM PDT
love this one, mom. however you failed to mention the epic tale of your oldest baby elephant jumping off a diving board when i couldn't swim...and you jumping in FULLY CLOTHED to save my life. woooooow i was so intelligent.
good thing you care less about see through t-shirts than i do about my ability to breathe:)
i love you mom!!