Music, Personal, Politics, Relationships

Honoring My Mom

The anniversary of my mom’s death was last week. It didn’t go unnoticed then… I just don’t like to get overly sentimental here. Between remembering a few specifics about her and current events, I found a way to honor her that she would have liked.

My mom and I had a complicated relationship. She was my strongest supporter throughout my education and especially in graduate school, and it still hurts that she died most likely not knowing that I’d earned my master’s degree. Glioblastoma took her clever mind from us long before her body wore down.

Despite the unwavering support, I think she was envious of me at times. Mom was very smart and could have been successful in a variety of careers, but she opted for marriage and a family instead. Her parents were pretty strict with their children, I think, and a woman working outside the home simply wasn’t in the realm of possibility in their minds.

Mom never said much about it to any of her kids, but her unhappiness in her marriage was obvious and suffused our home. When I first left home for university, our relationship got rocky, as I was learning and experiencing new things, and growing in ways I think she thought were permanently closed to her. After I married and then, a few years later, matriculated at an excellent graduate program, we grew close again.

Somewhere in there, I heard her utter the only swear word I can remember hearing her use—she started speaking of people who were on her “shit list.” Having been on it plenty of times as a child, I didn’t want to ever be on it again. As far as I can guess, I never was.

One of the last things she said to us in the preop room before the brain surgery that took her personality and intellect away from us for good was that it’s important to care about people, and to help those who are less fortunate. She had done this, even though we were on government assistance at times ourselves. Through most of her adult life, civil rights had improved. She would be appalled at the political changes in this country over the last 10 years or so (slippery slopes, it turns out, are hard to quantify).

So, after today’s SCOTUS decision striking down affirmative action at colleges and universities, I dug through my music archive and found a song I’ve not heard for years. My mom wasn’t alive when L7 released its 1992 album Bricks Are Heavy, but I have no doubt that she’d rock out with me to “Shitlist” on repeat. I remember the first time I heard the song—it was a bittersweet surprise to hear her one indulgence in profanity memorialized so perfectly.

This one’s for you, Mom.

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