Thursday, February 21, 2008

In memory

Today is a day I remember two women. The first: my mother, who died on this date 16 years ago. She was the age I will turn in May (God willing). Ever since I was 28, I've been haunted by the idea that I might die the same way she did (of breast cancer) and at the same age she did. It looks like I'm going to make it past the age she was when she died (God willing). And who knows how I'll go? Perhaps this is one fear it's time to let loose. A poem by Lucille Clifton says it better than I ever could:

poem on my fortieth birthday to my mother who died young

well i have almost come to the place where you fell
tripping over a wire at the forty-fourth lap
and i have decided to keep running.
head up, body attentive, fingers
aimed like darts at first prize, so
i might not even watch out for the thin thing
grabbing toward my ankles but
i'm trying for the long one mama,
running like hell and if i fall
i fall.

The other woman I commemorate today is Nina Simone, who was born on this date 75 years ago.

On the surface these two women seem to have nothing in common. Nina Simone, born in the south, a piano protege, a voice like no other, mother to one daughter. My mother, born and raised in the midwest, not famous, couldn't sing, mother of three children. But they were both larger than life characters. Each one just...herself. Each one an inspiration. Each one on my mind and in my heart today.


Maryann said...

Carleen, know that you are walking in your mother's foot prints as well as Nina Simone's. You too are larger than life. And you too are becoming famous. Not sure about the singing, ;-) but you are DEFINITELY an inspiration to us all. Remember the three Ls - live, love, laugh. You've taught me well.

Judy Merrill Larsen said...

What a lovely post, Carleen. Looking back and looking forward. Thanks for sharing.

leslie said...

Thinking of you today.

You have 2 guadian angels smiling at you knowing you are living your dream. Enjoy the ride and the happy memories of your Mom.

Larramie said...

IF only your pub date had been today... Such serendipity in those dates, though, as both women gave you life.

Celebrate this day well, Carleen.

Ello said...

Carleen, what a lovely poem. What a lovely post.

Julie Layne said...

Very nice, Carleen.

Isn't it funny how we make these time associations? I was thinking just last night that I am a few years older than my mother was when her own mother died ... and my mom seemed so OLD to me then! I had no idea.

Sherry said...

Lovely post Carleen. However you fall, you will fall -- this is true. History doesn't always repeat and I pray with all my heart that breast cancer will never darken your doorstep again.

Nina and your mother -- two women who have played a key role in your life. You have been blessed!

Lisa said...

What a beautiful tribute to these important women. I know the sensation the poem relates. I've had the definite feeling of living on borrowed time since my 32nd birthday. In many ways, it's a huge gift to live life with the awareness that it's important to be present and make every moment count. Can't wait for Tuesday night. I am sure I'll feel your mother's presence with us all so proud of you.

Carleen Brice said...

Thanks for your kind thoughts everybody. Yesterday was actually a pretty good day.

Sustenance Scout said...

Catching up here, Carleen, certain your mom is with you every step of the way. How surprised you must have been when you learned Nina Simone's birthday! Her music and voice echo throughout the pages of OMAH along with your mother's spirit--and spunk, is it safe to assume, knowing you? Hugs, K.