My Nomadic Mama

Me & Mama Hawaii

In Hawaii with Mama in her Jackie O days.

 

Her bible is sitting on my desk. One of many my mother studied. There’s a pair of black-handled scissors laying across it, and a postcard for one of my books. The one book I’ve written that Mama never read. She died before I wrote a single word of it.

One of my kin told me recently that she didn’t like the way we buried Mama. Said it bothered her that I had just poured Mama’s ashes into the hole instead of putting them into an urn and placing that in the ground.

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Somewhere in a Courtroom Today

Courtroom

Somewhere in a courtroom today decisions are being made about the welfare of children, abused and neglected.

Hardly a week passes by that I don’t receive a note from an adult who was abused, neglected. They always ask the same question: Why didn’t anyone intervene on my behalf? I was just a kid.

Somewhere in a courtroom today a CASA worker speaks up on behalf of  a child, caged and chained, starved until almost dead.

I answer the emails from those adults who managed to survive the abuse, the neglect: I am so, so sorry. I wish you’d had someone to intervene on your behalf.

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Stories Behind the Story

 

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There was that moment, (you knew there would be one, didn’t you?), when Kimberly Faith Hickman, the insightful and masterful director of MOTHER OF RAIN, took me by the hand after the show and said, “You have to hear this story.”

This was on Saturday, following the Talk Back session, a time when audience members were given opportunity to ask questions of the actors, the director, or Paul Pierce, who adapted the novel for the stage, or of me. I’d never really had a sit-down with the actors or with the director, so I had no idea that sometime during rehearsals that Hickman had shared with the actors the story of Andrea Yates, the Texas mother who drowned her five children.

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Witnessing the Sacred

 

 

 

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There is this place in Oregon, along the Columbia River Gorge, where a person can walk behind the waterfall. Horsetail Falls is one of the most scenic of Oregon’s waterfalls. Not nearly as popular as the grandiose Multnomah Falls, it offers an intimacy the more regal Multnomah lacks.

 

I hiked up there some years back with my daughters, I think, though to tell you the truth, I remember less about who I was with and more about what it felt like, there behind that cool water thundering off that hillside like a thousand wild horses. If I recall correctly (who can trust their memory, really?) I waded right out into that pool of water and let that waterfall spray all over me. Whoever I was with laughed and hollered at me to get back, but I’m crazy like that around water. I can’t resist a good baptism in whatever form it comes – waterfalls, rivers, lakes, or the marble encased ones found in the churches of my upbringing.

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In the Image of God

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My son called me from Winslow, Arizona. It’s one of several stops he’s making this week as he winds his way from Oregon to Georgia. He’s doing the reverse migration that his momma made. Stephan, who has grown up in Oregon, has accepted at job at the Georgia Museum of Agriculture and Historic Village.

Come Thursday, God willing and the Texas creeks don’t rise, I’ll be meeting him in my hometown. There are all kinds of reasons why I still consider Columbus home, even though I’ve lived as long in Oregon as I ever did in Georgia. I’ve spent years trying to understand why I feel like an immigrant to the Pacific Northwest. The simplest truth is that Columbus is the community that helped raise me.

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