The Apples Fell Not Far from the Tree
I think about my mother, z"l [may her memory be for a blessing] every day. I always draw strength from those thoughts, although they are sometimes tinged with humor or sadness, but always with gratitude for her life among us.
I reminisced about her with colleagues. It wasn't maudlin; it was apropos of the conversation and we laughed at her antics.
My mother was the epitome of discretion and a vault when it came to secrets. However, if you asked her a question or her opinion, be ready for her whole truth and nothing but her whole truth. Mom never thought she cornered the market on "Truth", but she did believe everyone was entitled to hear her version of the truth.
A number of weeks ago, during a conversation with my sister, I stopped mid-sentence and said, "you're thinking what life will be like when I lose my already limited ability to censor my thoughts, right?" She nodded heavily, somewhat overwhelmed by what the future held in store for us. My sister is the epitome of discretion and the vault for secrets. While I dabble in discretion (and must be a vault as a lawyer), she inherited the qualities that allowed Mom to opine with impunity. I just opine with impunity. Look, Mom's genes were allocated to three children. Together we make a clone of Mom. Separately, we struggle a little. So, let's accept that stuff that comes out of my mouth sometimes must be followed by a whisper (from a sympathetic witness), "she means well."
It is hard to generalize about Mom's more emphatic ways, so here are some specifics. When Mom was well into her 60s, she joined an abortion rights picket of then Cardinal O'Connor (now deceased). My mother started the chant, "keep your rosaries out of my ovaries!!" Ok, it isn't always easy to have a Mom who says things like that, but it certainly awesome. Or, the time, she got up from her seat on the bus and move over to a young man who seemed foreign-born. She put her hand on his forearm and said, "You're such a good-looking man. Why must you pick your nose in public?" It turned out the guy ran the newspaper stand near where my parents lived and, whenever Mom passed, he would run out with a free magazine. Mom always declined, with "You have rent to pay!! Stop it!!"
My mother always believed that you opened your home to those in need or without family. Needless to say, since Mom's death, I have discovered that some of my "cousins" are related only by love and not by blood. Mom taught us that love makes a family -- nothing more, nothing less.
Mom believed that each person should leave the world a little better for that person's having lived on earth. She helped found New Yorkers Against Gun Violence, an organization that thrives today. She helped plan the silent marches on Albany, NY, and Washington, DC, because people needed to visualize the empty shoes representing all who died from gun violence on the streets of America. She loved America and only wanted it to be an ever-shining beacon of hope.
So, in the end, I only got her directness and inhibition about saying her truth. My sister has her discretion. My brother has some of her activism (ok, before he moved to the Republic of Texas and had a family but at least he is a Democrat). My sister was right to shake her head, wearily.
SOB (sister of blogger), it is just going downhill from here. Be afraid.