My mother would have celebrated her 88th birthday today, December 21st if not for a combination of lifestyle choices, chronic health issues, benign but slightly negligent care at her skilled care facility, and boredom. She died in January of 2016, aged 83, leaving a rich and wildly esoteric and exotic legacy of arcane facts, cultural literacy, snarky sense of humor, and an almost ridiculously wide range of interests. She was something, this woman of the solstice.
Two sayings I use everyday: “turn the cold water faucet on first,and off last” that way neither you nor anyone else is scalded. “Yes, you can, but no you may not”. When I recite the former to myself, I prevent scalding myself or anyone else. When I say the latter, I annoy people. Maybe that is how it is with those who enter the world in the northern hemisphere at its darkest time, they know how to negotiate the shadows and demands of this world, and are wise enough to relish the sunshine and the joy of grammar.
I have not blogged for a while, a week, and it was tempting to let the whole enterprise just slide away as a well-intentioned but impractical idea. But I had made a promise to myself to post my mother’s favorite poem on her birthday. Keeping that promise has brought me back to the blogosphere, and so today I honor her and all women who were born at a time when being bright and talented meant you never quite fit unless you hid a part of yourself or forced yourself to blend in. For all those women who lived lives that pinched so that we their daughters could thrive, thank you! I’m sorry I didn’t realize sooner who you truly were.
Todays poem: “Jabberwocky” by Lewis Carroll, for Ethel Alexander Vickery who could, and did, recite it from memory until her dying day.
'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves Did gyre and gimble in the wabe: All mimsy were the borogoves, And the mome raths outgrabe. “Beware the Jabberwock, my son! The jaws that bite, the claws that catch! Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun The frumious Bandersnatch!” He took his vorpal sword in hand; Long time the manxome foe he sought— So rested he by the Tumtum tree And stood awhile in thought. And, as in uffish thought he stood, The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame, Came whiffling through the tulgey wood, And burbled as it came! One, two! One, two! And through and through The vorpal blade went snicker-snack! He left it dead, and with its head He went galumphing back. “And hast thou slain the Jabberwock? Come to my arms, my beamish boy! O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!” He chortled in his joy.
’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves Did gyre and gimble in the wabe: All mimsy were the borogoves, And the mome raths outgrabe.
Grace, peace, and healing Light to you! May tomorrow be for you a frabjous day!