She Walks In Beauty – My Mother

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I looked over my blogs and noticed I hadn’t written a lot about my mom. My dad, yes; but my mom, not so much. As much as my dad was formidable, boisterous and gregarious, my mom was the opposite. She is quiet, hardworking and constant. And funny. But her humor is subtle and understated.

One of the funniest stories I remember I wrote in another blog: My sister and I were at my parents’ house one day. Standing at the kitchen counter, we were engaged in a serious and riveting conversation about what we all discuss in the kitchen: hemorrhoids. Who knows who was the afflicted, but our conversation covered causes, symptoms, side effects and various and sundry methods of treatment. My mother entered the kitchen while we discussed the burning, itching and pain. She listened for a bit. And, in a humph, she pronounced her expert therapeutic remedy: “Just put a little Vaseline on it; and, for Pete’s sake, stop licking it!” No, Mom, we’re not talking about cold sores. Although she didn’t intend that to be funny, it certainly was.

Living with my dad was no picnic. I remember the tumultuous times which she endured with dignity and strength…but there were times when he pushed her across the line. That’s when the plates and pots began to fly. I’m sure that quieted him down. I suspect she regretted those times, but she was human…she is human.

My dad liked to be the center of attention, and I think my mom was content to be in the shadow. As I remember all my dad gave me, all that I attributed to him to the creation of my personality, I realize the things that are the dearest and the most important to me are the qualities and characteristics I received from my mom.

Three biggies I got from my mom – faith, family and literature – continue to dominate my world. Her faith in her church is such a stronghold that it even kept me grounded, well as grounded as I could be (as a restless and reckless hare) until I found my own faith. Only God knows how much I owe to her prayers. My mom is so Catholic…not the devout zealot who prays and penances painfully, but the one who echoes and reflects the beauty and joy of the old denomination though aware of its shortcomings. A sensible saint.

My mom taught us “Ohana”. Family…like what little Lilo said, “Ohana means family. Family means nobody gets left behind or forgotten.” My mom taught me Ohana generosity. When a neighbor girl would come over hungry, I thought my mom may shoo her away, but she didn’t, she invited her in and fed her. That one act of kindness taught me to always keep my door open. Even when there were times when I didn’t have enough, I tried to exhibit her Ohana generosity.

Growing up there was one book – one book –  that I remember reading, my Mom’s literature book from her Honolulu Catholic high school. In this book, I discovered Shelley and others whose poetry became seeds, seeds which would bear fruit in my own writing and can be seen in my little library that I am creating. One of my favorite poems from that book, She Walks In Beauty, defines my mother:

She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that’s best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes;
Thus mellowed to that tender light
Which heaven to gaudy day denies.
One shade the more, one ray the less,
Had half impaired the nameless grace
Which waves in every raven tress,
Or softly lightens o’er her face;
Where thoughts serenely sweet express,
How pure, how dear their dwelling-place.
And on that cheek, and o’er that brow,
So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
But tell of days in goodness spent,
A mind at peace with all below,
A heart whose love is innocent!
-Lord Byron

My beautiful mother’s raven tresses she cut after she got married. But her cheek and brow remain “so soft, so calm, yet eloquent” and her smiles still win and her tints still glow as she embarks into her ’90’s. Now she has some peace, and her love continues in innocence.

Thank you, Mom, for these priceless gifts. Gifts I hope to pass down to my children. Happy Mother’s Day.

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mom at alma 2

My Cup Runneth Over…

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Abundance – My Cup Runneth Over by Sandy Tracey

https://fineartamerica.com/featured/abundance–my-cup-runneth-over-sandy-tracey.html

Well, today is my birthday. Here I am on the cusp of 60. One of my first columns the Pacifica Tribune ran was titled “You’ll Never Be This Young Again”. It was a little reflection upon my imminent fifties. Like that column, this blog is a reflection as I now approach the big 6-0. I woke up early this morning, had a weird dream and couldn’t go back to sleep. Maybe I was excited like when one gets on the night before the first day of school or Christmas Eve or one’s birthday, if you will. 🙂 So with some extra time this morning, I remembered the story of the children of Israel creating a mound of stones as a remembrance of crossing the Jordan River, and I thought I would spend this time remembering and thanking God for the many, many blessings I’ve received these past six decades. Before long, my cup was running over….

The first thing to come to mind was thanking God for my friend, Mary, who invited me to the church where I came to a personal, living knowledge of Jesus Christ.  My whole life’s trajectory changed with that decision. I thanked Him for our church’s drama team, my excursion to Belgium in 1983, my short time at St. Mary’s and my graduation which was a present to my father. I thanked Him for Erma Bombeck whose writing I try to emulate, and my godfather, Phil O’Connor, who inspired and encouraged me to do so. I thanked Him for my ex-husband, and the kids we had together.

I thanked Him for them, and how their lives have enriched, energized and established me. Paul says in 1 Timothy 2:15 that women are saved through childbearing – really, Paul, how medieval – but for me, child rearing has indeed saved me. Saved me from myself and taught me to REALLY love someone else. They have taught me perseverance. I have had to keep at it. And for this dyed-in-the-fur hare, it has been my “salvation” and the means of transforming me into a semi-tortoise, and enabling me to begin to produce something meaningful in my life.

I thanked Him for my job. I’ve never held a job this long. I am amazed. I’ve learned so much, and have had the pleasure to work with some great people.

I thanked Him for my family. For my sister, Linda, who with Mike, got up in the middle of the night many years ago to bring Ricky to the hospital after he and James were jumped. Linda who helped extract me from the dangerous living conditions we were in, and who also listened endlessly as I vented about my problems. I thanked Him for my parents who have always helped me when I needed it. They housed me and my kids for almost ten years. I thanked Him for the sweet Christian school that miraculously took in my six shy little kids and prepared them for a traditional classroom environment, sowing the seeds of their academic success, and for the family member who namelessly, quietly, and generously paid for their first year there.

These are a few of the wonderful things God has done for me. I also thanked Him for the hard times. All the things above have shadows to them. My church was not perfect. My marriage ended. My children are human. My family has its own dynamic. There’s been work drama. There have been many bad times, many hard times. David said in one of his psalms, “It is good that I have been afflicted, that I might learn thy statutes…”. And I agree with him. I’ve learned much from my dark times.

But, God causes all things to work for the good, for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose: the tough times, the tender, the trivial, the triumphant and, yes, even, the tragic times. Death, in all its forms, can give birth to sobriety which gives birth to hope which gives birth to faith which gives birth to…..the impossible.

So, as I look upon another decade, Lord willing, I am excited to finish my extended course in motherhood – (legally, of course, because we all know it NEVER ends) – and to see what new things God has in store for me. And I thank Him for all of you who read my blogs and continue to encourage me in my writing.

“I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”    – John 10:10

 

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