A couple things have been swirling around in my experience this weekend, and they are stirring memories and feelings about my Mother. These feelings are already quite accessible, as I’ve been sorting through photos in preparation for a small gathering coming up next week to honor her memory on what would have been her 70th birthday.
If ever I do hurt you | Make your willows bend | If ever I deceive you | Darlin, do not hang your head
If ever I betray you | Cast shadows on your light | I pray that you may pardon | And forgive me by and by
Oh my, baby, cast another light | Oh my, baby, cast another light
Cause in our greatest conquest | We are what fate depends | That’s the heroes we once dreamt of | When we were children in our bed
And in our greatest triumphs | We cannot shake the fear | That the ones that we most treasure | May at any given second disappear
My dear, may we never disappear | My dear, may we never disappear
Cause we are all just animals | Living in the wild | But we, too, can be civil, friend | I’d like to try that now | I’d like to try that now
And I know I don’t deserve you | But if I ever dare forget | May you help my heart remember | And bring me home again
I finally saw the movie Nebraska today, and I instantly knew why this was the right time for me to see it. It was the perfect compliment to the song; the lyrics were my Mother singing to me, and the son in the movie depicted the role I played for my Mother in response. The son, Davey, realizes that he is in a position to give his father a sense of purpose in the twilight years of his life as his mind and body are failing him. Davey ignores convention and the judgement of others and gives his father a loving, double-layered gift; first, he takes his father seriously and helps him complete what he feels is a necessary journey; second, he leaves disappointments of the past out of the equation and just stays focused on his father, investing his time and actions in the relationship which exists in the present.
Early on, when I had not made peace yet with her memory loss, I often felt abandoned by my Mother; it was as though she had stopped being the person I knew and loved and was playing a ruleless game in which I was an unwilling participant. Consequently, it was a huge challenge for me to let her be who she had become and treat that person with love and respect. She often expressed feeling tremendous guilt about her declining health and how she felt she was a burden that was holding me back. I’ll never forget how her face fell when she realized I had stayed in Portland with her for eight years before coming back to LA last Spring. I often felt during that time that I was taking her hand and guiding her on a narrow, dark path, soothing her with my presence, words, and actions in order to help her be kind to herself as she slowly departed from her life.
Many of the comments I’ve seen in response to this song mention how sad it is, but I don’t agree. I see it as someone making peace and coming to terms with the spectrum of ups and downs that have occurred in their life; they’re just saying, “I know I’m not perfect, but don’t lose faith in me, don’t lose hope in me, keep me honest, and hold me in your heart.”
This is my Mother’s love song to me. My response – staying with her, being there for her, being present with her – was my love song to her.