It began in mid-April when my friend, Tim Standing Soldier, died at age 54. To have known and to have been befriended by this remarkable young man is an honor I cherish. Tim left behind a devoted wife and a beautiful daughter, siblings, nephews, nieces, aunties and uncles, many, many friends. Wherever he went, whatever he did, Tim acted in integrity and with conviction, having a wisdom far beyond his years. I believe Tim’s message to me and my way to honor him is to live as he did, speaking up for rightness and goodness across the blurry divisions of race, culture, sex, age, and all inequities. To Tim those divisions were artificial and insignificant. What mattered is the prompting of the heart. I know that I have many more of Tim’s teachings yet to decipher as I remember and sit with those memories and let my actions flow from there into the world.
And, once again, Mother’s Day gives us a chance to remember and honor our mothers and to look forward with our daughters and granddaughters. My mother had a stroke on Mother’s Day weekend in 2008. She tried valiantly to recover use of her left arm and leg. Thankfully, her speech and memory were not affected and she remained in good spirits throughout the summer. But her husband, her son, her brothers, her parents and many relatives and friends were waiting for her and she began to move closer to them in late August and early September. I spent every day and most nights with her until her death on September 17. At dawn, as I was crooning “heaven’s morning breaks and earth’s vain shadows flee” to her, she passed peacefully with a tender smile and a clasping of my hand. I have so many memories that are enriched and enlivened as I watch our old family movies that highlight the events beginning with my childhood and moving forward in time to include my children. As the years pass for me, I feel better able to understand the heartaches and struggles –and the joys - that my mother experienced and to know her as a woman as strong and as vulnerable as I am, because of her. As I tucked her into bed one night, she reached up and touched my face, saying, “Do you know how much I really love you?” I’m learning, Mom, I’m still learning.