I've been absent from blogging lately. One reason for that is my mother's health had taken a sharp downturn. Sixteen days ago, my mother's spirit left a body that had been ravaged by MS, osteoporosis, and scoliosis. Yesterday, at her memorial service, I delivered this message, and since it relates to yoga, I decided to share it with you.
Growing up, I was a very lucky child. Not only were all of my basic needs provided for . . . food, shelter, clothing . . . but I knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I was loved. I don’t know that I knew I was lucky, but I know that I never worried about any of those things; I never questioned whether I was loved and I remember being happy most of the time. The love and security I felt as child, I owe to both my parents, but because it was the 70s, and because my dad, who was a coal miner, worked long hours and worked shift work, most of the day-to-day, hour-to-hour love and support came from my mother. And she was great at it.
My mom was a stay-at-home mom when I was a kid. The house was always clean. The laundry was always done. She made clothes for me and my sister (embarrassing matching outfits) She did macramé and ceramics with my Nonna. She was my Brownie and Girl Scout Troupe leader. In the summer, she took me and my sister swimming every day. And she took me and friends roller skating and ice skating almost every weekend. We went to mass every Sunday. I always got what I wanted for Christmas, and even though my birthday was on Christmas Eve, she always made sure that it was celebrated separately. When I was a cheerleader and a majorette, my mom was at every game. And she saw every play I was in in high school and college. She was my biggest fan.
When I became a mom myself, it was my mom who took me to the hospital at 9pm and stayed with me there all night until my son was born the next morning. And it was my mom who took us home from the hospital two days later. She fell head over heels for my son, and I was able to see her capacity for love expand even more.
But my mom wasn’t perfect. I didn’t approve of some of the choices she made, and that complicated our relationship. She could be selfish and stubborn, and I could be a bit self righteous. When it came to her MS, I was disappointed that she didn’t fight it harder. I expected more from the spirited, fun-loving woman who raised me, and that disappointment sometimes manifested as resentment. I wasn’t perfect either.
But it is our imperfections that make us who we are. Because at the core of everything, we are all the same. We all want to love and to be loved. As my mom’s disease progressed, I was reminded more and more of the love and care she gave me when I was child. The worse things got for her, the more I knew that it was my privilege to be able to offer her some amount of comfort and support. When I tied her shoes, I remembered her teaching me to tie my shoes. When I brushed her teeth, I remembered that she taught me how to brush mine. And when I brushed her hair, I remembered her brushing my hair and putting it in pigtails . . . well, that is until she gave my sister and me those awful shag haircuts in 1976.
Today, we are all gathered here to remember that we loved and were loved by my mother. I end my yoga classes with the word “Namaste.” It is a one-word acknowledgement that despite any perceived differences, any imperfections, at the core of everything, we are the same. And in closing today, I offer my mother the full sentiment behind the word “Namaste:”
My soul honors your soul. I honor the place in you where the entire universe resides. I honor the light, love, truth, beauty, and peace within you because it is also within me. In sharing these things, we are united. We are the same. We are one.
See you at the studio.