Dozer, the bulldog

Dozer, the bulldog
Dozer: Spring training is upon us!

Backstage at Reggae on the River, 2017...

Backstage at Reggae on the River, 2017...
The author of Mark's Work

Hollyhocks

Hollyhocks
Why I grow flowers

HappyDay Farms bees are happy bees.

HappyDay Farms bees are happy bees.
Air-borne bees

HeadSodBuster and BossLady at the coast

HeadSodBuster and BossLady at the coast
Love is the greatest power.

Beauty abounds!

Beauty abounds!
Crossing the Eel River at French's Camp

If you've seen one butterfly, you've seen 'em all, said no one ever.

If you've seen one butterfly,  you've seen 'em all, said no one ever.
Butter in the fly...

July Jewels

July Jewels
Bees to the Kingdom

My souvenir from Reggae on the River, 2017

My souvenir from Reggae on the River, 2017
Something I have always wanted...

Mahlon Masling Blue

Mahlon Masling Blue
My friend and brother.

Mark's E-mail address

bellspringsmark@gmail.com

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Family

Family

I have been in cruise mode for a week or so, building strength for a series I am writing in my head, while recovering from some physical discomfort, caused by once again overdoing it. Though splitting wood with the big iron merely requires feeding it a steady diet of already cut oak and madrone, there was much back-bending and arm-wrestling with individual rounds too big to pick up and put in the truck.

I would do it again in a nano-second because with this last burst, I may just have enough firewood to get us through until summer. Sometimes you just have to take one for the team. Gluten-Free Mama makes it all worth while by informing me how much she appreciates my efforts, obviously instinctively aware that one will work twice as hard when he knows it is appreciated, than otherwise.

Actions speak louder than words but words can make a pretty powerful impression as well, especially when the words come from 7,000 miles away. I have been regaling you with the words Mama wrote in my “baby books,” the three spiral notebooks recently sent to me by my sister JT, but there is more.
This photo was taken two months
after Mama wrote the letter below.

There are the letters Mama sent me while I was in the Big Green Machine, letters I have kept with me, along with all my correspondence from that period, everywhere I have gone in the ensuing 44 years. Not only does her voice come alive when I read her words, the content of those words leaves me flummoxed.

A couple of weeks ago, in a piece entitled, “That’s My Kool-Aid,” I wrote, “When I reflect that I can never remember being told I was loved, I am almost embarrassed to be thinking that I needed to be so informed: I did not. Love was woven into the fabric of our home in so many ways, that the words themselves would genuinely have seemed superfluous.

Imagine my surprise to encounter the following passage in a letter from Mama, dated April 12th, 1972, just a few days over forty-five years ago. It just goes to show that words on paper are more likely to survive the passage of time, than a questionable memory:

“You don’t have to worry about answering any of the letters I wrote; what I said in there was true, and the main problem we have around here is that we haven’t always been communicating too well. Sometimes I think we worry about how it’s going to sound, or maybe we’re embarrassed about showing our emotions. Enough of that. We have to hang together and get closer to each other, or what good is a family? 
Mama's letter, dated April 2nd, 1972
In any case your letters are just as beautiful; your thoughts come through loud and clear and they mean just as much to us here at home. What can you say? Well, when you or anybody else says, ‘I love you,’ they about cover it pretty well, I would say, and ‘I love you’ doesn’t have to refer to a member of the opposite sex. It’s just as important that we all share that love. So hang in there and remember that we’re thinking about you at all times.”

Mama’s ability to articulate the subtle nuances of what constitutes love, is noteworthy. ‘We have to hang together and get closer to each other, or what good is a family?’ she wrote. And she was right. Family is hanging together, and when I was overseas, I always felt that Mama was at the center of a web of love that encompassed everyone within her range of experience.

So I did not worry about what it sounded like, I skipped the embarrassment, and have tried to do so ever since. I tell Gluten-Free Mama that I love her, and then I empty the trash, the compost and the recycling, before going off to split wood for five hours. Sure, I am embarrassed that I am such a light-weight now, that I can’t even split up a little wood, without injuring myself. 

However, that being said, I am also warm and so is GF Mama.


6 comments:

  1. Yes, I think Mama's (and Papa's for that matter) upbringing prevented her from perhaps knowing and communicating her own emotions but that web of love was there. One thing that was clear was that we were (are) a family and family takes care of each other. I don't know the specifics of July, 1985 and its aftermath but I wonder if you think family failed you there.
    I also know that I fear judgment by family so that keeps me silent sometimes but, for me, the bottom line is I still think they would help me in any way that they could if I ever needed it.

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    1. In reality I think once we split from the house as adults, that support became less important. And no, I do not harbor any long-term grudge against anyone for any reason. xoxo

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  2. Thank you for sharing these words of wisdom from Pauline. I too was on the receiving end of her reassurance and non stop support when I spent four years in the high school seminary known as Dominguez. I know I longed for those letters from Mama to arrive, and I never tired of reading them and feeling the warmth of the family invade my very cells as I moved though those institutional hallways. So, I can relate to how you felt over in Korea, being blessed with these expressions of love.

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    1. Zounds! A drive-by from Noel. Great success! I do appreciate your reaffirmation of Mama's ability to comfort us when times were hard. Much love.

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  3. What I have from Mama are mostly birthday cards and notes given to me at regular intervals throughout my life. Like you, I have saved any that had a personal message attached (which was most). She always signed her cards "Love Mama", and in later years would also add a "I love you" tag as well. She didn't actually say the words very often, but there was never any doubt in my mind that I was loved.

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    Replies
    1. And yes, except for the excerpt I posted, I neglected to mention that of course, all correspondence came with that message. As always I appreciate your stopping by! Much love.

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