I have been struggling to write this article, yet, every time I abandoned the thought, it continued to haunt me. My best friend and partner in crime insisted I draw to see what comes up. Mind you, its’ been many years since I’ve put any energy into my art, and that combined with my music; elicits a degree of anger…which brings me to this week’s story. Those of you who have lost their Mother will understand.
30 years ago my best friend, Beth, & I went out of our way to do anything but what our Mom Barbs expected. Beth, being a bit older, had certain social obligations that weren’t as appealing as sneaking off to the park to listen to Todd Rundgren, or head down to the Medieval room @ the Cleveland Museum of Art for a flashback. We didn’t have cell phone back then so we couldn’t easily be tracked down.
Cleveland has many museums and cultural activities, most of which are located on University Circle. Old carriage houses transformed into charming bistros and coffee houses dot the surrounding neighborhood where we would get lost in our dreams. We relived that adventure while visiting the Cleveland Botanical Gardens.
My mother still visits after her death 12 years ago. When she presented herself yesterday (always in the form of Hough cake) I knew to pay attention. On one rare occasion when she encouraged, I mean insisted that I go off and have fun with my friends for the weekend, a terrible accident occurred. I had a similar opportunity today and knew something wasn’t right. As if no time had passed in between, the details of that horrible memory are still clear and palpable. Then I smelled cake, and for a brief moment, I got the connection between my relationship with my Mother as the spirited girl I was and the grown woman I am now.
It was appropriately Memorial Day weekend and we were surrounded by the memories of our now past Moms. Such an incredible day, we felt like we were getting away with something. The conversation we shared recalling our flashbacks of 30 years past put me in mind of being a teenager. Beth was 21 and a great person to hang with, being “of age”. My Mother didn’t think so. She always said emphatically “She’s too worldly for you”. “Whatever that means” I used to snap, knowing damn well what she was implying. Ironically, we were never really doing anything wrong or bad, just not what we were expected to be doing at that moment. Beth still exercises free will when it comes to certain obligations. That’s what I get from her, lapping up every foreseen opportunity from life like she laps up the lobster thermador served at The Cape Cod Room, creating possibilities filled with excitement; and there were many…
As we sat under a pergola in an almost secret garden, we found ourselves surrounded by rhododendron and dogwood that were undeniably each of our Mom Barbs. We were in a themed garden named “The Cotton Club”, which harkened back to an era that was their own. Who knows, maybe that’s what they did in their youth, frequenting night clubs and dance halls, swing bands filling the air with the sounds of reckless abandon while their Moms thought they were somewhere else, being good.
We both have grown children we have been open with about our activities during our teens and 20’s. Perhaps we made a mistake by sharing our secrets and not keeping the mystery among ourselves, like our Mothers and their Mothers and other women from generations before who just wanted to have fun!