On my mother’s birthday, June 20, it feels appropriate to write this blog entry about her. It’s the last day of Gemini and the summer solstice arrives tomorrow.
“Eighty years of age does not seem old to me. Old is when one is again dependent as we were in infancy – needing help as a constant to feed and care for oneself. Who knows, I may die from an illness before I ever get old, then on to the next adventure.”
I spoke earlier about how my Dad unexpectedly died when I was twenty-nine. He was fifty-four. Losing Dad compelled me to get to know myself in new ways. Mom was eighty-three when she passed away. She continued to ponder the meaning of her life until her last breath, while battling metastasized breast cancer and a grapefruit sized mass of malignant tumors in her liver. Mom’s eternal optimism and loving encouragement compelled me to be true to myself.
Mom considered herself to be very lucky, having led a worthwhile and productive life. Despite her obstacles and challenges, her life was filled with joy. Mom was a super Gemini. She had square palms and widely spread long fingers. She was the youngest of hard working Russian Jewish immigrants who loved and adored each other and their five children. Mom’s two oldest sisters died when they were very young. Mom’s long strong index fingers symbolize her ambition to achieve. She was the first in her family to attend and graduate from college. Though her family struggled financially at first, they never felt poor. Mom’s father (my Zadi) was the most generous man I’ve ever known. He always had loose change and an abundance of warmth and good spirits for everyone. I remember in my early childhood, Zadi showing up with a diversity of people off the street at meal times. I cherish the special memories of time spent with my Bobi and Zadi.
Geminis can be wonderful friends. Mom felt blessed in this arena. She attributed her friend making ability to moving frequently in childhood. With so many changes involving multiple schools, mom learned to adapt and develop social skills in order to make new friends. As you examine the balls of her thumbs, you can see many long lines parallel to her lifeline. Mom maintained intimate friendships from early childhood. They continued to love each other through heart attacks, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Diabetes, Cancer, and many other diseases of old age.
The luckiest thing mom ever did was to hook up with my dad. They met at a bus stop. It was love at first sight. She was a twenty-one year old virgin princess. He was a twenty-five year old former bad boy in the process of turning good. She played Eurydice to his Orpheus and Persephone to his Pluto. I was conceived on their wedding night and born nine months to the day later. Mom wanted to have a natural childbirth, however after thirty-six hours in labor, I was cut out. She came within inches of dying and spent weeks convalescing. When I first discovered Astrology, I sought an eminent astrologer for my first reading. “This is a death chart” she told me. A person’s horoscope is also their mother’s transits at birth.
When I was forty, I hired Laurie Nadel, a psychologist to regress me to a past life. She had written a book called the ‘Sixth Sense’ on past life regression and was well known for her work in that field. As she gently talked me into a state of deep relaxation, she encouraged me to visualize my life as a tunnel with a series of lights going back through time. As we regressed through this life, my job was to turn on the lights wherever they were out. I had to jog my subconscious memory in order to do that. When I arrived back at age three the tunnel was black. As I turned those lights on, I found myself sitting on the potty, not needing to have a bowel movement, but still making grunting noises while my mom was concurrently teaching me to read. No one could ever accuse mom of being unambitious or inefficient. I guarantee I was the first boy on the block to be out of diapers and reading at the same time. I also remembered mom setting the timer on a variety of occasions (with the threat of punishment) to help me achieve tasks that needed to be completed in a timely fashion. In her defense, considering my highly flexible thumbs at that time, I must have also been the most unstructured, undisciplined, and unfocused kid on the block. Peter Pan doesn’t like restrictions. I never did get to any past lives in that session.
My brother, Gary, was born when I was four. At seven my sister Jennifer arrived. Mom used to say, “Most parents make most of their mistakes on their first kid” (which was true in my case). She considered raising her children the greatest accomplishment in life. As I began my early twenties, I confronted mom to tell her that I wasn’t perfect and that she had made plenty of mistakes. She replied, “Well son, I’m sorry for anything I did which caused you any harm. My mistakes were not intentional. I tried my best to be a good parent. You’ll understand when you’re a parent. You’re an adult now. You must grow up and get past whatever holds you back. You need to be as healthy as you can be.” She was right. What could I say? My brother and sister were spared most of my hard lessons. We did turn out OK in ways that matter most.
Mom was a cultivated Gemini. She was one of the most well-read people I ever knew. When I was about ten years old, mom read Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl. It reinforced what she already knew and confirmed her most significant value in her life, which was the knowledge and understanding that while you can’t always control what happens to you, you have the power to choose what you think, feel, and do about what happens to you. Whether you’re going out in the rain with or without an umbrella or going to the electric chair screaming or with dignity, you still have the ability to choose your behavior.
Even in the direst of circumstances, mom had a sense of humor. She was lying in her hospital bed with tubes going in and out of her and she said to me, “What worries me most is how nice everyone is to me. Do they know something I don’t?” My sister warned her “You’re not allowed to die until you finish raising my (teenage) kids”. She joked about buying mom’s casket at Costco and mom loved the idea. My brother said to mom, “I’ll start worrying when you stop putting on your makeup”. He threatened to taxidermy her and stick her in a corner in his living room. Mom’s intensive care doctor told us that in all his years, he never had a patient who was so sick and so determined not to look like it. While wheeling mom around the hospital, people thought I was her husband. I’d say “Thanks for the compliment, but I’m her father”. “Pleased to meet you”, they’d say. The joke was on me. At sixty, I was still a potential embarrassment to my mom. Some things never change. Mom was a poster child for the geriatric crowd at seventy-seven. If you want to get a real taste for mom, you’ve got to check out this exercise ball video that mom made as a response to my sister sending her the ball. Though the quality isn’t great, I guarantee you’ll love the content!