Today I am thinking about my mom. This memory spark was ignited by an article by Chauncey Devega in Salon about angry young white males centered on the evil that Dylan Roof wrought in South Carolina.
In my faceBook posting about this article, I said:
“I think the father’s role is crucial in forming this anger. If the father is absent, inattentive or lacks the skills to model the right behaviors then the son will stray. Of course, if the father himself is an angry white male then modeling that behavior should not be a surprise. In addition, if a white male is not in tune with his feminine side, he will likely want to compensate thru behaviors showing he is “powerful” and “in charge”. Time to focus on this-a serious conversation is needed nationally.”
What does this have to do with my mom?
I believe that the relationship between a son and his father is critical in forming a healthy spirit. I also believe that the son’s relationship to his mother enables the male to discover and embrace his feminine side. Our society hurls barriers in front of young men who are trying to talk and feel. Idiotic advertising messages are bombarding vulnerable young males who are searching for the language to think and speak about their struggles to balance the male and the female. This is, of course, not new. Evil and hate-filled blogs, writings and TV/radio message strip away the young male’s ability to be reflective and comfortable with uncertainity. This existential struggle has been going on for a long time. The need for language is crucial. Robert Bly stated: “One reason poetry is at the center is because the language that men use to communicate with each other has gotten very damaged.”
This drawing was made from memory after I saw my mother for the last time–shortly before she died of Alzheimer’s. It was a heart wrenching moment. Her beauty was sucked into the ether. Her spirit gone. Vacancy was all that occupied her beautiful eyes. It hurt so bad. Yet, on my way home, it opened a door of reflection. So, as a male with a strong father and mother, I was blest. Mom taught me how to sew, to cook, to clean the house, to believe in myself and to respect others. She was adamant about education (I was the first to get a college degree from either side of my family.) She was also a deeply spiritual person who read her bible everyday and prayed. Sometimes she expressed deep disappointment that I did not follow her overt religious path. Yet she never condemned me. I know she was sad. I know she would have liked for me to follow in the footsteps of my Baptist preacher grandfather. But, both dad and mom allowed me to follow my path—safe and secure (and proud I think) in the knowledge that I was stable, healthy and “turned out OK” (a typical southern phrase.)
Without mom (and dad of course) I would not be able to channel the rebellion of my youth into a positive energy. I would not have been able to, in the 9th grade, write about the evils of the KKK. I would not have been able to be comfortable with my feminine side. I would not have been able to spend a summer (between 11th and 12th grades) in Italy studying art and architecture. I would not have been able to be comfortable with ambiguity, uncertainty and living with the question. It is this side, I believe, that unlocks my creativity and ability to “see” the world in a different way. As I age, her voice becomes stronger and my creative urges are surging. So, thank mom for your guiding spirit. I need it more than ever.