Community, family, and support

I was blessed to meet a family who had three generations of womyn at Michfest. The currently grandmother has been coming since before the current mother was born. Then her daughter grew up there. Now the granddaughter has been growing up there. The mother and grandmother both expressed profound grief that the young girl will not get to be shaped by the experience of being on The Land every year.

I feel cheated sometimes. I’m not even sure who or what cheated me. But I feel cheated. I feel like there is love and support and family out there… just not for me. I mean, I sound like an ungrateful bastard. It isn’t true any more that I lack love or support or family. It’s a non-rational feeling.

I miss my mother so much I physically ache.

When you walk The Land all of the womyn call one another “Sister” with no irony or sarcasm or sense of intrusion. You are my Sister in the struggle. We are all fighting to find our place in the world.

I have always had a difficult relationship with the idea of referring to other womyn as “Sister”. It feels like it belongs to womyn of color and it isn’t for me. I don’t want to appropriate. But I really want to feel like I am connected to people.

One of the workshops I attended talked about the struggle of aging gracefully as a lesbian. The underlying assumption of this was the physical degradation that happens to everyone as they age… but lesbians don’t have children to care for them most of the time. I watched the 60-something and 70-something year old womyn cry about how hard it is to be alone.

I looked at my daughters really hard through this whole week. I thought really hard about my friend Pam, who is more or less putting her life on hold to hang out with her aging and failing grandmother because when you are Chinese that is just how it works.

I will not have that. I don’t think. I don’t think my children or grandchildren will care for me the way that Pam’s grandmother is being cared for. I’m more likely to get shoved into a home where I can be “not a problem” to anyone.

I feel so bad that I deserted my mother. She did her best in horrifying circumstances. I understand that more and more as I get older. She really didn’t have better choices available to her than the choices she made. She really did her best. Given every terrible thing that happened to her… her best wasn’t that bad.

It wasn’t good enough. But that isn’t her fault. I’m no longer sure it is anyone’s fault. Life is just hard.

I bought a Valentine’s card for my mother over 10 years ago. It is sitting in a box in my garage. It says, “Every year I recognize that I’m getting more and more like you. I like it.” Every.Fucking.Year I think about sending it. For the past few years I have thought about writing, “I forgive you. I’m sorry for all the pain I caused you.” I wouldn’t sign it. She would know.

I spent today visiting with a friend from California who happened to be in Michigan visiting family. Turns out I walked in on the best family for me to talk to. Lots of mental health issues resulting from terrible poverty and abuse. Radically anti the prison industrial complex because of personal experiences. Educated and feisty even though they have issues. Still fighting to learn new skills and grow. Even a stunted tree reaches for the light.

When I was at Michfest listening to the womyn talk about the strain of growing old while being alone–they rushed to assure themselves and everyone around them that it is ok to be alone. There have always been men who were alone. They die early. They tend to be stunted emotionally. How different is it for womyn who know what community support feels like to be alone for 51 weeks a year?

My mom isn’t alone. I don’t think. I think she is with my sister. I’m pretty sure my niece and nephew live with them because of poverty. Heck, my nephew is married now. I wonder if he has a child. My mom has one baby left out of four. That has to hurt unbearably badly. I continue to check every couple of months for obituaries.

I’m afraid I won’t apologize before she dies. I’m afraid that I will be too afraid of what cracking the door might mean.